Monday, December 17, 2007

It's Hard to be Hydrocephalic

Last week, New Jersey as an Impossible Object taped Graham Stowe singing his Patersong "The Skeleton of Peter the Dwarf" based off material from Books I and IV (pp. 10 and 192 respectively). The music is by Jonathan Sircy. More of their songs based on Paterson can be found on Graham is a doctoral candidate here at the University of South Carolina, and is embarking on a dissertation about Williams' Paterson and Olson's Maximus Poems. Along with Kenneth Camacho, he's kept a blog, The Paterson Project, which documents their use of Paterson as raw material for new poems and songs.

The Skeleton of Peter the Dwarf

It’s hard to be a hydrocephalic.
54 inches, head to toe
(27 from my chin to scalp alone;
That makes me a marvel.)

Washington came to see me
(the man, not the city; or, maybe, the city is the man).
He looked at me; marveled at me;
I answered with inactivity.

I floated along, day to day,
endlessly rocking,
loving Jesus and preacher’s conversation,
swelling with pride at the show I could provide.

It was hard for me to move,
my head being so huge,
but I got by without going out;
keeping to the cerebral.

my head's got its own box now,
it's lost all its water!
and now they say my skull is a marvel!
but they say nothing of the parts of me everyone's had.

What I never told in my time
was that, more than theology or phrenology,
all I ever wanted out of life
was to not shit in my cradle.

A tiny outhouse with plenty of headroom,
straps to hold me up and a stand
from which I could read
my Bible or a dirty magazine.

Oh that would be marvelous.
“A marvel indeed,” they would say,
as they tied me in and
sang of my tenacity.

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