THE BLOG
04/07/2015 10:59 am ET Updated Jun 07, 2015

The Versinator: The Perfect Gift for National Poetry Month

A friend has given me a homely gift. Because he's a poet he likes to tinker, sometimes with words, but he also fools with cast off things. My gift is "The Versinator"--a glass instrument, formerly a piece of lab equipment. It's delicate, finch sized, a bird that sits in your palm. It has wings, though one could easily confuse them for two delicate glass straws. Picture a pipette twisted, forming a u shaped elastic retort at the bend. It's the damndest thing, at once indescribable and floaty. I joked: "It's some kind of smoking device." "Almost," he said, but since he's a poet he wasn't done.

He raised it like a cruet and pushed two thinly folded papers into its ear straws. Then he handed it back to me. "It's The Versinator," he said. It works like this: breathe in one ear and like the poet Wallace Stevens you chase tigers in red weather. Breathe out, and the ugly world and sad people escape from the Versinator's other ear. "It's also a "Re-Versinator," he said. "Breathe in and it converts sad air into poetry."

Already "The Versinator" has given me hours of joy. I blow in some lines by the Finnish poet Edith Sodergran: "How everything dead is marvelous and unspeakable" and out the other side comes, "everyone's eyes are a little asymmetrical" and voila I'm an anti-laureate, the sage of my shabby hallway, and a Jungian wizard, all in the comfort of my own living room. I can't put it down. I inhale the static, empty oxygen of suburbia and a pulmonary trick occurs. With furious speed my tears become copper and I stand in my big Papa rubber boots and sway under verdigris clouds. You can't beat The Versinator.

I picture a late night TV infommercial starring Bobcat Goldthwait dressed as Bela Lugosi, but not the Lugosi of Dracula, but from his last film "Plan 9 From Outer Space" (Lugosi died while making it).

"Hey," says Bobcat Lugosi, "there's a door to the darkness; you get used to it, you know? You're driving through a small town at dusk, still feeling hope, when it hits you! The violet evening just doesn't care!"

He's wearing welder's goggles and a smoking jacket. (Outer space motif circa 1959)

"But with the amazing Versinator, you can turn your angst right around!"

"You just blow in this grass thin tube, and out comes a whole new vision!"

"Now I know what you're going to ask! Bogosi, how can something so small be a vehicle of immanence?"

"The secret is this: you can't reach the world, you can only let the world find you."

He blows in, listens to the second tube, looks at the camera and says:

"Human consciousness is much like pouring water over a peacock."