Monday’s Verse, Feb. 8 or 9, 2010

Guys,

I was buried under 21 inches of snow for yesterday and could not reach my computer. I kept reciting Stevens’s “The Snow Man” at the top of my lungs, but no one could hear me. Later, in the evening, I stopped by some woods.

Anyway, that’s why the tardiness. Up this week is an English poet named Glyn Maxwell, who is almost Muldoonian in his work–he can write explosively formal poems, has a good vocabulary, has at least a dash of wit, and also writes criticism and screenplays and long-form verse and opera libretti and all that kind of jazz. A poetic polymath, in other words–super annoying. He has published several volumes of poetry, and did a graduate degree at Boston U. and taught at Amherst for a while. It may have taken him a few months to land the teaching gig, perhaps the inspiration for this selection. Can anyone else out there relate to this??? And by the way, one would probably have to go back as far as Longfellow to find a poem in which the word “Massachusetts” appears 6 times, right?

Stay warm,

Matthew

GHOST OUT OF WORK

I died and I tried haunting Massachusetts.
Had I died inexplicably, bizarrely?
I begged their pardon: No. Had I not lived
in a Gothic homestead, never trod the stairs
of turrets? I tried haunting Massachusetts.

I died and I applied in my best suit.
Ahem, they didn’t even cough. They made
that sound: ahem. Did I not have a costume?
Was my love doomed, was she a chambermaid,
an heiress? I roamed all of Massachusetts

in search of work. Was I accused unjustly
in a witch-trial? Or justly? They sat forward,
interested. Er, no. Car-accident.
They sat back. But I died in Massachusetts.
They nodded, they could see my application.

And in what areas of Massachusetts
would I be sighted if I did indeed
return? I reeled off various dear suburbs,
a seafood restaurant, a Barnes and Noble;
Fenway. In that suit? Somebody sniggered.

I died and I do not haunt Massachusetts.
You haven’t seen me. I was ushered out
politely. I was told of openings
in Illinois. I headed for South Station,
not a care in the world. Nobody stopped me.
2003

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