We make our own geography as we go.
Displacement as the sense of being out of one’s element or as the sudden encounter with the marvelous.
-Poets can be displaced as in refugees.
-Poems can be displaced as in books.
-Man is displaced as in life.
Knowing that you are displaced, a void which is filled becomes orientation/disorientation in foreign sounds and pictures.
A fish out of water – a displacement of objects as we become objects for someone else’s subject.
1942 can read as 1492.
Pretty much both years were identical- war raging in Europe, hatred of people fueled the ovens of the State, human life was worth less as markets inflated profits and wages died of starvation. And just like Columbus searching the horizon for a new world, Andre Breton landed on the same shores escaping the madness that soon enveloped this land also.
Mr. Breton was pushed out of his house by war, these countless wars that pass over this earth like grazing bison feeding on human grass, human water, until there is nothing left and they move on.
Next stop New York City
W.56th St was my last lead. My informants had sightings of him there in a French restaurant talking to Marcel Duchamp. But every time I went there the waiter informed me that he hadn’t been there that day, or that I just missed him.
Late in the day I heard his voice on the short wave radio reading propaganda (that I knew he neither wrote, nor believed) to the Francophiles who had a Nazi jackboot on their necks.
I knew that V.O.A. had their studios on W.57th St. but again, every time I got there it wasn’t his day to work or “He just left here.”
The doorman mentioned that his attitude was grim, his wife left him for another man taking his little Aube with them, leaving him alone and empty inside his apartment.
Also, there was no interest in surrealism in this land and the attitude of artist and poets, with a few exceptions, left him with a dry film in his mouth.
I decided to go back to the restaurant.
Once again the waiter said not today. I gave myself a rest from walking and ordered a drink. The guy came back with my glass and a few scrapes of paper and sat next to me. “He left these here last night.”
I opened them up and saw that they were poems, drafts written in green ink that looked more like weak tea water than ink. I asked if I could keep them. The waiter got up looked at me and shrugged his shoulders in agreement.
Taking the papers I went out onto the streets and headed back to Alphabet City for the night.
1946 brought the end of the war to America. Victory under a mushroom cloud radiated joy and a new world order that promised the end of the madness, only to begin a new form of madness under two new false promises of capitalism and Soviet leadership.
Breton packed his bags and left the refuge that kept him entertained, but not amused. With a new love and ideas for a last book that would attack the order of the cosmos under tarot cards, Fourier idealism and the promise of a new myth for humanity he returned back to Paris to help build a new road that would lead to a golden time, again.
I’m walking down 5th Ave. on my way to hang out with friends at the band shell. Along the sidewalk people sell their wares to those who have too much or too little. One guy near the statue of Jose Marti and Bolivar sells books of some value to people who know a bit more than the value of IBM stock that day.
Among the Camus and Tom Wolf crap is a slim volume of poems by Andre Breton which I pick up and buy for a few bucks.
“Young Cherry Trees Secured against Hares”
I knew of this book but never saw one copy for sell. I enter Central Park and sat by the rocks off 59th St. in front of the Essex House Hotel. I light up a smoke and sit back to read. Before I notice the day turned into early night and I finished the book before it is time to go back home for dinner.
Walking back I read the poems that stood out to me at that moment and I realize that I’m standing in front of the apartment building Breton lived in, and that I passed the same offices he read into the radio at and at that moment I realized how the world, life and poetry are all running in circles, overlapping and connecting at times that go unnoticed if one is not aware.
I’ve been looking for Mr. Breton for over thirty years without ever catching sight of his shadow- that long shadow casted on concrete and broken glass that makes the foundation of this city. This city both dead and alive, living in the past and future but never present, present like a child that stands in front of you but is miles away playing and stealing time, since time is the only thing children have to steal.
Andrew Mendez, 2014