Balvenie Doublewood, With The Flu

by Gord Sellar

an ocean of scotch, imagine,
fuming raw honey flooding
the plains of the earth

think of casting nets into it,
speaking in a secret cant
with the men on those boats

think of every red-rimmed eye
every bleared face moving slow
at the sight, sighing themselves on

but look closer, equip your
puny fumed mind with a lens,
an equation, the rupture of calculation

it is a raging wild soup, beneath
isotopes lurk leptons, quarks,
filaments of everything

whose spin is not spin; galliardes
of meaning, boson and antiproton:
the teeming immigrants of the underworlds’

uncertainty, not knowing your feet
on solidity, the movements of your eye, the pang
of missing, of empty space everywhere

this world you are convinced you see, the one
you think we share, I have not seen, it is a
crust, I cannot speak your kant and

unfixed it falls apart, this liquor may be
art, and perhaps we should set keel to breakers,
breathe deep and fall into the mind-murk

of fabricated absolutes, in a world without
where blind men teem after chryselephantines, floating
in the intoxicating haze of the world

— Montreal, 1999

When I studied with David Solway, one of the exercises we did in our course was to taste Scotch — Balvenie Doublewood, to be precise — and take notes about how it tasted to us. The object of the experiment was to demonstrate that — in writing, as in whiskey — individuals will have variations on what they find, how their palettes are attuned to noticing, but that themes will emerge nonetheless; that, indeed, there are aspects of a text that can be discussed “objectively.” We then had to turn our notes into the bones of a poem, and this is what I produced.

Here are my actual tasting notes from the whiskey itself (dated 11 Jan 2000):

Gord’s Balvenie Doublewood (12 yrs) Tasting Notes

Colour: raw honey
Nose: not harsh; slightly sweet but insidious
Body (“mouth feel”): full; sharp on the edges and smooth in the middle.
Palate: powerful; rich and slow with swirling layers.
Finish: dizzying; flare with long and slow decrescendo; I’m still dizzy.
Score: 1×1033

Apparently I was impressed, though I did not proceed to get into Scotch whiskeys.

February 10, 2012

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