Academic journal article Field

Counting Russell Edson

Academic journal article Field

Counting Russell Edson

Article excerpt

A woman is trying to write about Russell Edson's prose poems. She reads "Counting Sheep" and wonders if Russell Edson is a farmer-scientist. He sure knows his sheep!

She wonders if his mind is like a loading ramp. Here come more sheep. So many many sheep.

She wonders why her own mind is filling with sheep.

She wonders if Russell Edson's prose poems know they're prose poems, if they have an}/ sense of how inimitable they are and perverse and true in their absurd true unshrinkable perversity.

She wonders if the prose poems are breeding and decides that at night, when the book closes, yes, they're breeding.

She wonders if each prose poem holds a secret chamber inside of which a politician cries in his sleep. That is, she wonders if within each prose poem something very normal is happening.

She wonders if she could ever in a million years write a prose poem like Russell Edson's, and so she immediately tries:

Father Cow and Mother Bull go for a walk in the forest. Father Bull is complaining. Oh Father Cow, says Mother Bull, Cover up your mouth. You'll always be a cow, Father Cow, you have no right to complain. Anyway, it's almost time to make new Mother Bulls to feed the revolution. But I'm only trying to advance understanding of our dying culture, cries Father Cow, as the culture's dominant ideology follows Mother Bull and Father Cow into the slaughterhouse like a thirsty calf named Nadine.

The woman wonders why her attempts to imitate Russell Edson always fail. It's impossible to write like Russell Edson unless you're Russell Edson and sometimes not even then.

The woman puts the prose poems under a microscope and sees there are more than just sheep in there. There are cows. Don't throw those cows around, you crazy sheep.

She wonders what would happen if the sheep started breeding with the cows. …

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