if in that moment / it is clear that in our entire, graceless rage / it is what we have, and all along, / most yearned for, / then let us be spared by that which has the power to spare us / the knowledge that it is too late / to disclaim anger, find the will / for love and tenderness, beg / for pardon
again and again and again
John Engels, “For the lately dead” The Kenyon Review, Autumn 1984. (via sorryeveryone)
i’ve been feeling really good about poetry lately, and today I learned that when someone says “I, the former national and international poetry slam champion, took a little job over the summer at Papa John’s” it’s time to start paying attention
But now I am afraid I know too much to kill myself Though I would still like to jump off a high bridge
At midnight, or paddle a kayak out to sea Until I turn into a speck, or wear a necktie made of knotted rope
But people would squirm, it would hurt them in some way, And I am too knowledgeable now to hurt people imprecisely.
No longer do I live by the law of me, No longer having the excuse of youth or craziness,
And dying you know shows a serious ingratitude For sunsets and beehive hairdos and the precious green corrugated
Pickles they place at the edge of your plate. Killing yourself is wasteful, like spilling oil
At sea or not recycling all the kisses you’ve been given, And anyway, who has clothes nice enough to be caught dead in?
Not me. You stay alive you stupid asshole Because you haven’t been excused,
You haven’t finished though it takes a mulish stubbornness To chew this food.
It is a stone, it is an inconvenience, it is an innocence, And I turn against it like a record
Turns against the needle That makes it play.
though I do not wish to necessarily endorse the speaker’s position on suicide this is a hell of a poem and I will take “And I am too knowledgeable now to hurt people imprecisely.” with me, thank you very much.
so this is a poem I wrote that is about the death of the sun and the eventual heat death of the universe, but it is also a love poem. it does not have a title because most of the poems I write these days do not have titles. (I do not know why this is.) I left the intro on because when I say “a love poem about the death of the sun and the eventual heat death of the universe” you can hear a guy go “whaat?” and man alive do I love that.
The last leaves, in fact, beech perhaps, they hang on too long, or aspen, / Yellow like that, sweep and begin to plunge, the last hope / Of the tree, taken by Thanksgiving’s wind, because that’s the way with wind is, Willful like that, cruel.
Marilyn McCabe, “Eve on the Edge” Cream City Review Volume 32 #2
Why a fence you ask? Because of reasons, which are as follows: demarcations, unwanted elements, property values, taxes, building codes, civic duty, creepiness, and bears. Dear bears we built these fences for a reason. Dear reasons we do not care. Sincerely, the bears. The bears have learned to compose letters and nobody cares. Dear food let us eat you Dear ocean full of menace let us eat you Dear terrifying ocean full of menace we mean it Dear wolves we have already eaten you and now we sit here by the ocean wearing your torn-off faces like masks until the ocean full of menace gets the picture. Dear ocean full of menace we are right here. Under the moon. We are waiting.
They have been having the same conversation
for a year now. But we are in a relationship, she says. I know, he
says. What will happen when you leave, she says. I’ll go back to my
life. What am I? she asks. You’re not my life, he says.
Jill Bialosky, “An Essay in Two Voices” Harvard Review, Winter 2008
This is from an old P-Boink piece I wrote, “Taylor Momsen, Meta-Critic” and since I badmouth Billy Collins on the podcast this week I just needed to post my thoughts on him so I could link it from the extended show notes. #synergy
Ms. Momsen then launched into a diatribe against former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins, a man who she claimed “derives his sense of whimsy largely from his own idiocy.” She read one of Mr. Collins’ poems, an excerpt of which is reprinted here:
You know the parlor trick. wrap your arms around your own body and from the back it looks like someone is embracing you
Though this reporter found the verse to be inoffensive at worst, Momsen paused at the end of each line and pointed her finger down her throat, suggesting gagging. “Mr. Collins would do well to heed the words of Robert Creeley, namely, that form is never anything more than an extension of content. Without what in latin is known as acutus, or the Spanish agudeza, without a point, any exercise in form is purely masturbatory.” Momsen went on to suggest that poets, rather than “playing with the effects and affects of breath within a syllable” should simply “say something that fucking means something. I mean, god. Seriously.”
Some of the walls remained and some / fell. We scavenged what bricks we could / for the new walls, some of which // remained and some of them fell. / We scavenged what bricks we could / for the new walls, all of which // are shorter, so we crouch. No one remembers / how to make bricks, how to stop bombing, / how to drink tea without dust in it.
-Bob Hicok, “A Story From The World” The Iowa Review Volume 40 #1 Spring 2010
someone going through my tumblr reminded me of Bob Hicok and so here is some more Bob Hicok
in the parlance of pro wrestling, a bump is the fall someone takes. this is as simple as falling backwards and lading flat on your back because you got hit with an extra powerful fake punch, but it extends to all falls: the ones from complicated suplexes and slams, the ones off ladders, the ones through tables. I like watching wrestlers take hits more than I like watching them give them, I think there’s more art to it and I have more respect for people who put as much effort into making their opponent look great as they do themselves. (for my money, Scott Lost was the best dude for this, excepting dudes who made careers out of it because they’re too small to do anything else.)
in any event, sometimes I see a particularly great bump. but the thing about pro graps and the way I see pro graps, a great bump means one that lands particularly hard, an artful sort of ugly crash. (this is a fan’s perspective; a worker would see a great bump as one that looks good but doesn’t hurt. maybe these are the same bumps that I like, I don’t know because pro wrestling is fake and sometimes it’s hard to tell whether they’re in pain or they’re just acting like it.)
when I see a great bump, I go “oooooooooh” and my eyes narrow, with the length of the oooh and the width of the eyes directly linked to how good I think the bump was.
I told you all of that so I can tell you this: that is the exact same face I make when I am listening to someone read poetry and they drop a great line.
How many accidents multiplied / to create your hands. How many times did your / fathers dig their hands into the earth only to / pull them back with stones and blisters? Think / of all the diseases you managed to avoid or the punches / pulled from your soft jawbone.
David Harrity, “Fathom” The Los Angeles Review, Volume 6 Fall 2009