Monthly Archives: February 2013

Feb 26, 2013 Love Song

Dear readers,

In the last half a decade or more, I have generally refrained from commemorating birthdays, graduations, weddings, bar mitzvahs and the like on this forum, due 100% to the fact that for every one of those I would remember, there are 12 I would forget. However, when a founding member gets engaged, and when other readers rally around her cause, I’m flexible enough to rethink policy. So to MV super-commenter Sara Cohan of Nashville, TN, she of the well-researched reply, the personal anecdote, the genocide fetish, the Dorothy Parker fan club, and the undying love of teaching, we wish many many years of happiness, happiness unbesmirched by the kind of bitter irony Parker creates below. I learned something about poetry in producing this week’s edition: the poem is written in what is called “common measure”: Rhymed quatrains where the first and third lines have four beats, and the second and fourth three. It lends an inherent musicality (if it’s not your taste, you might call it “sing-songy”). Parker has upped the challenge for herself. While the form only calls for rhyme at line endings 2 and 4, Parker has rhymed all the lines. It’s wonderful, morbid, and funny. -ed.

Love Song

 

My own dear love, he is strong and bold
      And he cares not what comes after.
His words ring sweet as a chime of gold,
      And his eyes are lit with laughter.
He is jubilant as a flag unfurled—
      Oh, a girl, she’d not forget him.
My own dear love, he is all my world,—
      And I wish I’d never met him.
My love, he’s mad, and my love, he’s fleet,
      And a wild young wood-thing bore him!
The ways are fair to his roaming feet,
      And the skies are sunlit for him.
As sharply sweet to my heart he seems
      As the fragrance of acacia.
My own dear love, he is all my dreams,—
      And I wish he were in Asia.
My love runs by like a day in June,
      And he makes no friends of sorrows.
He’ll tread his galloping rigadoon
      In the pathway of the morrows.
He’ll live his days where the sunbeams start,
      Nor could storm or wind uproot him.
My own dear love, he is all my heart,—
      And I wish somebody’d shoot him.
-1926
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Feb 19, 2013 Love, We’re Going Home Now

Thanks to alert reader S.C. of Nashville, TN, for the following piece of romantic verse from Pablo Neruda. Fun fact–also courtesy of S.C.–the Chilean government is currently exhuming Neruda’s remains to determine whether his death in 1973 was related to the military coup that preceded it by 5 days. Family and estate maintain he died of advanced prostate cancer. Funny, isn’t it usually the other way around? Government maintains the death of notorious political gadfly was of natural causes, family claims it was extrajudicial homicide?

Well, for those of you who prefer your love poems less thorny, enjoy today’s sonnet. -ed.

Love, We’re Going Home Now

Love, we’re going home now,
Where the vines clamber over the trellis:
Even before you, the summer will arrive,
On its honeysuckle feet, in your bedroom.

Our nomadic kisses wandered over all the world:
Armenia, dollop of disinterred honey:
Ceylon, green dove: and the YangTse with its old
Old patience, dividing the day from the night.

And now, dearest, we return, across the crackling sea
Like two blind birds to their wall,
To their nest in a distant spring:

Because love cannot always fly without resting,
Our lives return to the wall, to the rocks of the sea:
Our kisses head back home where they belong.

Feb 11, 2013 Blue Monday

Dear readers,

It’s been a long year, and I know some of you are eager to dive back into the deep and bracing waters of Diane Wakoski’s poetry. Our featured writer today has been the featured writer in mid-February going back at least 8 years. Wakoski (b. 1937) is a California native who is now most closely associated with the state of Michigan, where she’s worked and taught for decades. Her books include Coins and Coffins, The George Washington PoemsThe Motorcycle Betrayal Poems, Inside the Blood FactoryThe Emerald City of Las Vegas, and Medea the Sorceress.
Over the years we have commented on many of “Blue Monday’s” features: the wild metaphors and symbols, the repetition, the deep image, the mordant humor. Have we ever mentioned how sexy it is? This is a damn sexy poem! There are tongues, and breast, and lips, and arms, and stomachs, and gushes and rippling and flowers and a black shadow pulse, and “electricity dripping from me like cream.” Last year I said this poem arrives at the “coterminus of love and loss,” and there seems to be some kind of apostrophe (an address to the dead, or to an absent interlocutor) going on. A lover remembered, but remembered in all dimensions: the emotional, the temporal, and also the corporeal. I’ll never figure out what this poem is about. And that’s great. Happy early Valentine’s Day to all! -ed.
BLUE MONDAY
Blue and the heaps of beads poured into her breasts
and clacking together in her elbows;
blue of the silk
that covers lily-town at night;
blue of her teeth
that bite cold toast
and shatter on the streets;
blue of the dyed flower petals with gold stamens
hanging like tongues
over the fence of her dress
at the opera/opals clasped under her lips
and the moon breaking over her head a
gush of blood-red lizards.
Blue Monday. Monday at 3:00 and
Monday at 5. Monday at 7:30 and
Monday at 10:00. Monday passed under the rippling
California fountain. Monday alone
a shark in the cold blue waters.
                You are dead: wound round like a paisley shawl.
I cannot shake you out of the sheets. Your name
is still wedged in every corner of the sofa.
                Monday is the first of the week,
and I think of you all week.
I beg Monday not to come
so that I will not think of you
all week.
You paint my body blue. On the balcony
in the soft muddy night, you paint me
with bat wings and the crystal
the crystal
the crystal
the crystal in your arm cuts away
the night, folds back ebony whale skin
and my face, the blue of new rifles,
and my neck, the blue of Egypt,
and my breasts, the blue of sand,
and my arms, bass-blue,
and my stomach, arsenic;
there is electricity dripping from me like cream;
there is love dripping from me I cannot use–like acacia or
jacaranda–fallen blue and gold flowers, crushed into the street.
                Love passed me in a business suit
and fedora.
His glass cane, hollow and filled with
sharks and whales. . .
He wore black
patent leather shoes
and had a mustache. His hair was so black
it was almost blue.
                “Love,” I said.
“I beg your pardon,” he said.
“Mr. Love,” I said.
“I beg your pardon,” he said.
                So I saw there was no use bothering him on the street.
                Love passed me on the street in a blue
business suit. He was a banker
I could tell.
So blue trains rush by in my sleep.
Blue herons fly overhead.
Blue paints cracks in my
arteries and sends titanium
floating into my bones.
Blue liquid pours down
my poisoned throat and blue veins
rip open my breast. Blue daggers tip
and are juggled on my palms.
Blue death lives in my fingernails.
If I could sing one last song
with water bubbling through my lips
I would sing with my throat torn open,
the blue jugular spouting that black shadow pulse,
and on my lips
I would balance volcanic rock
emptied out of my veins. At last
my children strained out
of my body. At last my blood
solidified and tumbling into the ocean.
It is blue.
It is blue.
It is blue.
-1968

Feb 4, 2013 “February”

Dear readers,

In his book of poems called “Area Code 212,” Frederick Seidel alternates page-length poems on a specific topic (Ducati motorcycles, Easter, Roman goddess names) with page-length poems describing a month. I was pleased by his ode to February, bitter and cynical as it is. February is the worst! And thus we see that Frederick Seidel (b. Feb. 19, 1936) is wiser than T.S. Eliot, who said some mishmashy balls about April being crueler. No way. Strangely enough both men are from St. Louis, and both attended Harvard, as high-achieving men of a certain class from St. Louis are wont to do. We’ve described the “Pauls” (Muldoon and Durcan) in this forum as “wise-asses” of contemporary poetry, and one is tempted to place Seidel in this category as well. But whereas Muldoon and Durcan are the kind of guys who are smartasses because they can already do what’s going on in class better than every other student, Seidel is the kind of smartass where the teacher goes home at night and wonders, Hm, is that child SERIOUSLY DISTURBED?
Frederick Seidel’s poems have been offending people since before his first publication, in the early 1960s. A jew, he’s been called anti-Semitic. A rich and refined man, he’s been called tasteless. But recently he’s also been called the finest poet writing in English.
Nothing like a tight chain of quatrains to hammer home a theme, I say. And the theme here is, I think, all in the title. Hey note how this poem seems tailor-made for us: mentions of February, Monday, even a MV reference, as if we’d put away discussion of Virgil, Ovid, and Horace for the winter… -ed.
FEBRUARY
The best way not to kill yourself
Is to ride a motorcycle very fast.
How to avoid suicide?
Get on and really ride.
Then comes Valentine’s Day.
It is February, but very mild.
But the MV Agusta is in storage for the winter.
The Ducati racer is deeply asleep and not dreaming.
But the pills back in the vial.
Put the gun back in the drawer.
Ventilate the carbon monoxide.
Back away from the railing.
You can’t budge from the edge?
You can meet her in front of the museum.
It is closed today–every Monday.
If you are alive, happy Valentine’s Day!
All you brave failed suicides, it is a leap year.
Every day is an extra day
To jump. It is February 29th
Deep in the red heart of February 14th.
On the steps in front of the museum,
The wind was blowing hard.
Something was coming.
Winter had been warm and weird.
Hide not thy face from me.
For I have eaten ashes like bread,
And mingled my drink with weeping,
While my motorcycles slept.
She arrives out of breath,
Without a coat, blazing health,
But actually it is a high fever that gives her glory.
Life is death.
-2002