Monday’s Verse 8-27-07


obviously at this point, I’ll just be trying to live up to the new
standards of intelligence, humanity, and wit that Ms. Cohan set during
my absence. Many thanks.

Gol dang I loves me some Gerald Stern. And not only because his name
is an anagram for “Dr. Ten Lagers.” No, it’s more because he can seem
like the combined second comings of Walt Whitman, William Carlos
, and Wallace Stevens. So I was delighted to see him in a
recent New Yorker. He’s always a lesson in poetry, because rarely, if
ever, does one get a sense of what the man MEANS. That is OK. He’s
known for surreal connections between image and thought, which work
because his writing itself is usually so fluid. In other words, his
poems make sense in an OTHER way. This one is I think no
exception–seems more of an exercise in rhythm than anything else.
Enjoy the waning weeks of summer,



Because of the Paganini I lifted the lid
the minute I got back from Prague and kissed
the two ridiculous inlaid hearts that were
located so carefully and lacquered so well
they could have been painted on, and I would have said
one was me and one was you and you were
standing beside a column that propped the roof up
and you said, “Don’t forget, I saved your life once,”
and I said, “I’ll never forget,” and there were walls
plated in bronze and dogs of gold and silver,
except the machine broke down, or what it did,
the music just ended, or just when you thought it did
there was another PING; and I got up
to put my white shirt on I wear to buy
my carrots in and I rewound the box
though it was June and there was blood on my fingers
from strawberries and I examined the tiny
pins reaching up from the comb and the block of wood
to see where music comes from and to learn
once and for all how feeling is converted,
though we were in a boat in Naples harbor–
I like that better–and we were floating and there was
more than an inch of water and the inlaid
hearts were shaking and the pins were going wild.

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