I have some exciting news. My poetry-technology consultants, Arwen, Theresa, and Katie, have been busy over the past week helping me to drag Monday’s Verse, kicking and screaming, over to somewhere approaching the 21st Century. The blog that Arwen has maintained for several years, mv37.wordpress.com, has been backfilled to include most editions going back to around 2001. There are some gaps that we will still have to fill. We may also have to do some tagging so that all poems are arranged by author and title, and searchable by author. We’ve also created a twitter feed where, each Monday, the poem’s title, and author, and a link to the blog will be tweeted.
Today I’m suggesting you do 3 things:
1. Check out the blog at:
2. Create a wordpress account at:
The account will allow you to follow the blog and post comments there.
3. Follow us on Twitter! @MondaysVerse
One thing we’re still looking at is whether we’ll export the mailing list to some kind of mass e-mail service, so that the weekly postings, which will still be a part of MV, no longer come from my personal e-mail account. More on that, and other blog updates, in the near future. Meantime, big thanks to our poetry-technology consultants (and a HUGE high-5 to Arwen for originating the blog and updating it for going on 7 years), as well as to volunteer Mark Kats and gadfly Steve Bailey.
And now on to the poetry. Philip Levine’s (1928-2015) work has been featured in our pages many times, and deservedly so. I regret to report today his recent death. In his professional life he was strongly identified with Detroit and with his own blue-collar roots. Before college, he worked with his brother and neighbors on a Ford factory line, reading poetry at night. He discovered a gulf between the 2 worlds, a gulf he found unnecessary. When he found that the voices of his coworkers were not present in the poetry he read at night, “I took this foolish vow that I would speak for them, and that’s what my life would be. And sure enough I’ve gone and done it. Or tried, anyway.”
Here’s to foolish vows. Here’s to trying. -ed.
AN EXTRAORDINARY MORNING
Two young men—you just might call them boys—
waiting for the Woodward streetcar to get
them downtown. Yes, they’re tired, they’re also
dirty, and happy. Happy because they’ve
finished a short work week and if they’re not rich
they’re as close to rich as they’ll ever be
in this town. Are they truly brothers?
You could ask the husky one, the one
in the black jacket he fills to bursting;
he seems friendly enough, snapping
his fingers while he shakes his ass and sings
“Sweet Lorraine,” or if you’re put off
by his mocking tone ask the one leaning
against the locked door of Ruby’s Rib Shack,
the one whose eyelids flutter in time
with nothing. Tell him it’s crucial to know
if in truth this is brotherly love. He won’t
get angry, he’s too tired for anger,
too relieved to be here, he won’t even laugh
though he’ll find you silly. It’s Thursday,
maybe a holy day somewhere else, maybe
the Sabbath, but these two, neither devout
nor cynical, have no idea how to worship
except by doing what they’re doing,
singing a song about a woman they love
merely for her name, breathing in and out
the used and soiled air they wouldn’t know
how to live without, and by filling
the twin bodies they’ve disguised as filth.