Monday, June 18, 2001

Loud As A Very Loud Thing

Turtle in the road this morning, fully extended, green and immobile and big as... big as... as—

—I find myself at a loss, like the homicidal protagonist of “O’Malley’s Bar,” spluttering “with an ashtray as big as a fucking really big brick I split his skull in half,” as if he were reaching for, and failing to grasp, a phrase rather more poetic. That happens a couple of times on Murder Ballads—the speaker stumbling, breaking the rhyme scheme and/or the meter—I think to show the intrinsic inarticulacy of violence, its pre-verbal nature. Violence defies language, coming as it does from the reptile brain.

And that monstrous turtle’s reptile brain couldn’t even get it out of the goddam road at the height of rush hour. Big as my briefcase, he was.


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