Altered Proverbs by Suzanne Buffam
by Suzanne Buffam
People who live in glass houses should install blinds.
Home is where the Walmart is.
Where there’s a will there’s a lawsuit.
Let she who is without sin take the first bong hit.
In the kingdom of the blond the albino is king.
Two in the bush is better than nothing.
If you lie down with poets, you will get up with fleas.
When in Rome stay at the Ritz.
The road to hell wasn’t built in a day.
Oil and water make the world go round.
The grass is always greener over graves.
To forgive is human, to forget divine.
A journey of a thousand miles begins when the fat lady sings.
Truth is stranger than the sum of its parts.
Not a narrative. Not an essay. Not a shopping list. Not a song. Not a diary. Not an etiquette manual. Not a confession. Not a prayer. Not a secret letter sent through the silent Palace hallways before dawn. Making a daybook of oblivion, A Pillow Book leads the reader on a darkly comic tour through the dim-lit valley of fitful sleep. The miscellaneous memoranda, minutiae, dreamscapes, and lists that comprise this book-length poem disclose a prismatic meditation on the price of privilege; the petty grievances of marriage, motherhood, art, and office politics; the indignities of age; and the putative properties of dreams, among other themes, set in the dead of winter in a Midwestern townhouse on the eve of the end of geohistory. Feather-light in its touch, quixotic in its turns, and resolutely deadpan in its delivery, A Pillow Book by Suzanne Buffam offers a twenty-first-century response to a thousand-year-old Japanese genre which resists, while slyly absorbing, all attempts to define it.