This just in from Booklist: Pulitzer Prize winner [Charles] Wright is on the hook as guest editor for the latest edition of this essential annual, and he asks, basically, what and who makes a "Best American Poet"? The poets he selected represent quality and diversity. Among the well-known contributors are Marvin Bell: "I awoke and was dead, so I decided to take my own life, and ended up / alive after my self-inflicted demise"; and his former colleague at Iowa, Jorie Graham: ". . . looking up, the sky makes you hear it, you know why we have come it / blues, you know the trouble at the heart, blue, blue . . ." Equally up to the task are newcomers Joshua Beckman and Erica Dawson, who writes, "The later it gets, the more the sky will grow / In a strange reversal. Immaterial." This is a fun, varied, and generous collection of poems by 75 poets at various stages in their writing lives, all of whom will inspire a wide spectrum of poetry lovers. — Mark Eleveld
Due in bookstores soon. You can pre-order here.
So I said like why so he said like maybe my place?
So he said cock so I said what
so he said like Cambodia like it was
like he looked straight
at you when he spoke of guns
versus flowers versus Picasso
is hot is not
so I said typo
so he said type-A
so we fucked
or we balled
or we ambiguously
did the thing that has no name
Lovely to fuck the queen of the wards!
-- Molly Arden
Red Lion was immortalized (sort of) in H.L. Mencken's oft-anthologized story, "A Girl From Red Lion, Pa.", about a young lady who loses her virtue to her beau, Elmer, and ends up in Baltimore looking for a house of ill-fame, because. according to what's she's read, that's where ladies who lose their virtue always end up. (find the story here ). Mencken refers to Red Lion as "a burg;" the theme of the story is the city slickers' response to the girl's country-bumpkin innocence.
Well, Mencken was a notorious curmudgeon, and one of the joys of living in Red Lion has been the rediscovery of old-fashioned pleasures. Last Saturday was the annual town street fair, an eclectic mix of music, food, crafts, local church outreach, and sidewalk sale. It is the kind of event where kids can stuff themselves on funnel cake and cotton candy; throw baseballs at the dunking booth to raise money for the local police department; and buy themselves straw sombreros with their names spelled out on the brim in red yarn.
Wandering around, I noticed a sign on Loyer's Pharmacy window - "Banana Splits - $1.65." Can it be? I thought, and went inside. Yep - there it was - a real-live, marble-topped soda fountain complete with chrome-and-red-leather chairs.
This week we're pleased to welcome back Joseph Kruzich, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate Shenyang Province, China. Joe previously entertaned us with blog posts about Chinese food and drink. He has agreed to take time out from his busy schedule to write about the goings on in China during the Olympics. Thanks Joe! --sdh
Well, the Olympics are now well on their way in China and I thought I would provide some color to what all of you are watching on television and reading about in the papers back home. My observations are mainly from a satellite city, Shenyang, which is hosting many of the soccer games for the Olympics, at least the quarter and semi-finals. The finals will be in Beijing. Shenyang is an old, industrial city in China's Northeast, commonly referred to as China's Rustbelt. I often describe it to friends as a combination of Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo in the early 1980's, but when some American friends recently came up this way they thought that analogy was off the mark, and they thought Shenyang, with all its neon signs, was "Splashy". Anyway, Shenyang was given the privilege of hosting some of the Olympic soccer games and they have taken their responsibilities seriously, building a brand new athletic stadium that is probably one of the nicest soccer stadiums in China now, touching up the city and sending thousands of volunteers throughout the city to make sure foreign visitors are given a warm welcome.
But before I delve into the soccer games, let me just say a few words about the opening ceremony in Beijing last Friday, which was probably witnessed by most of China. I watched it with a group of Chinese friends and though they cracked jokes about their leaders and their expressions and all of the countries, one could tell they were deeply proud of the grand choreography of Zhang Yimou and the "chinese history and culture in one hour" theme. To watch it on TV in China and with Chinese was quite special. I also have to add, there are a lot of dumb and stupid things said in the American media about China, but today's column in the Washington Post by George Will raises willful ignorance to a new art form with his comparison of the opening ceremony to some Leni Riefenstahl propaganda documentary. What an insult to the memory of the Holocaust.
If there are two sports that the Chinese care passionately about, it is soccer and basketball, and both sports have attracted the nation's attention these past couple of days. I mentioned earlier Shenyang is the host to many of the Olympic soccer quarter and semi-final matches, and the Chinese men's team opened up their Olympic appearance in Shenyang last Sunday. Now it is, of course, true that soccer is a Chinese national sport, much like the NFL is in the U.S., but the Northeast is the real soccer loving region of the country and the region with the undisputed best team - that beautiful coastal city of Dalian. Northeasterners love their soccer teams, much like Pittsburgh fans love their Steelers or Green Bay fans love the Packers. So, when the Chinese national team came to Shenyang last Sunday, it was quite a spectacle to watch; the enthusiasm was high and the expectations higher. Now, before I get to the China vs. Belgium game, let me take a little historical detour on China and soccer. The Chinese men's team has been disappointing their fans for most of the last 100 years, and certainly of late; its the same sort of love-hate relationship Chicago has with its beloved Cubs. In fact, the frustration is so palpable a newspaper in Changchun (the Detroit of China), a couple of months ago carried a headline on the front page: "China men's team loses again; We have nothing more to say". There was no story that followed.
And, alas, the 45,000 enthusiastic Shenyang soccer fans who came out to cheer their team on were again disappointed as China dropped the match to the better Belgium team 2-0. But, this time they could blame the refs.
Editor's note: We'd like to acknowledge Daniel Nester, who edited poetry for McSweeney's site and chose to devote the space to a sestina a week by diverse poets. He did it brilliantly. Rick Moody's "Radio Sestina" is one of Dan's selections. -- DL
The nave of the jazz dives blows a merry old air.
Not the free jazz. Or not at the end of the set.
The ballads. Though he thinks he can't, he can;
Though he thinks he won't, he might.
By the by, don't trust a cat who's given to lie,
As that cat hard sells. This player he goes back to the well,
And even if, as an alto man, he seen better days, well,
He can still pluck gossamer clusters from the air.
Can still scale the modal and be-bop heights. Lie
In the arms of mathematicians, you know, set
Theorists, e.g. Look, keep the beams on bright, don't stare. Might
Of militarists, unnecessary here. A can
Of elbow grease, that's all, for the nave of jazz, he's can-
Do, man. Dips the pen of his craft into the inkwell.
It's swell. Least, until the day when his eyesight gives out. Then: might-
Have-been. Could-have-done. Etc. He starts to sound like an air
Raid siren, or a rhino bellowing from his lair. Hey, it's art. There's a set-
To, at the jazz dive. Going disco. The promoter used to lie
Back and slyly collect meager profits. Now, jazz, a "pack of lies,"
Dude says. "In all candor, fella does what he thinks he can,"
And then this dude, he cranks the television set,
Inks a deal, while watching the patrons bus-stopping in the well
Of his club, like's it's a streetwalkers' fair, en plein air.
Girls looking like if they don't yet, they might.
Good for business, dog. No jazz bands, now, even if the players are mighty
Prophets. Flugelhornists, they lie
Low. Same with the vibes guys. Violists. They air
Dry their laundry, eat mac and cheese, save where they can,
It's like a living hell, musician's life, like radio, whose impoverishment is well
Documented. Man has a brain, man has his radio set
At defiance, set at naught. Set
At the left of the dial. All you who might
Rush pell-mell into the contemporary. Know well
Where you fly, this region where the tuba players of lullabies lie
In state. Here the house music vampires do their can-can,
Delouse love slaves out in the cabana. Yes, where'er
You fly, hell. Through the static, a voice, "Might just as well
Prolong this set of lies, since I'm already on air,"
Mister D.J. exclaims, "And don't wanna get my ass cancelled."
– Rick Moody
from McSweeney's (1 / 22 / 04)
In 2002, a British writer, Valerie Laws, was awarded a grant to investigate what the BBC called "a new form of 'random' literature." A flock of sheep had their backs painted with individual words; a new poem resulted each time the sheep stopped wandering for a minute or two.
(BBC News, 4 December 2002)
A representative of the North East Arts Council, who awarded the grant, called it "an exciting fusion of poetry and quantum mechanics."
(BBC News, 4 December 2002)
Joseph Moncure March may not have been a (m)ad man like our current crop of unexpected poetry-lovers, but he was a poet whose book-length narrative poem became the screenplay for the 1949 Hollywood feature film, The Set Up. Read all about it in Jefferson Hunter's fascinating article in this summer's Hudson Review.
Joseph Moncure March's 1928 poem tells the story of "an aging black middleweight [boxer], Pansy Jones" and "two conniving fight managers" who influence his career. By the time Art Cohn finished the screenplay (which was his very first!), our boxer has been de-ethnicized and changed from tough-as-nails fighter to a victim; and the final story has changed a great deal as well.
Surely this isn't the only poem to become a screenplay! For 10 points, how many screenplays have been written from the plots of poems?
The sheep does not mind much --
not even the necessary attention to his wounds,
ragged bite marks on his neck
from an old dog ricocheted
back to wildness
by the archaic scent of prey.
The sheep and his brother are Zen masters
of the barnyard, accepting
rain and grass and first aid
with the same slow breath and placid stare.
They swallow the world whole
in a way we have forgotten,
who cannot see a rainbow arc
across a summer sky without
unprisming it into white light,
into something we think we understand.
A brief lesson in animal husbandry before I get to poetry: Sheep and goats were some of the first animals domesticated by humans (chickens were in there, too), which makes a lot of sense. They work very well for both a nomadic and a more sedentary agricultural lifestyle. Certainly, they are what farmers call "easy keepers:" low maintenance and high return.
However, sheep have gotten a bum rap for stupidity. Unlike their wily goat cousins, who are perpetually plotting mischief, sheep take a very dharmic approach to things: if it doesn't affect me, why worry? Rather than stupid, they are incurious. If they come to a locked gate, they just turn around and head off in another direction (again,unlike goats, who are the Houdinis of livestock and who, once free, will tap-dance across the hood of your car with gay abandon on the way to ransacking your tomato plants). Sheep have actually been rated above cows and slightly below pigs on animal intelligence tests (although I must admit being unclear how one tests the intelligence of farm animals. None of them seem capable of higher math).
The issue is that sheep are on almost everyone's menu. To survive, they must react instantaneously to a threat, perceived or real. Their philosophy is "run away now; ask questions later." They don't have much of a defense arsenal beyond this, other than glaring and stamping (once I went into the barn wearing a billowing peasant skirt that totally freaked them out. They had never seen me like that before, and they refused come near me. Instead they stood at the other end of the pen, bug-eyed, stamping like woolly flamenco dancers: go away, go away!) or bunching up in a corner if they're trapped and can't run. This last actually makes a lot of evolutionary sense. Predators like wolves and lions operate by isolating and stalking an individual, hoping to separate it from the herd and pounce on it. When a whole herd is crowded together, it is very difficult to see where one sheep ends and another begins. Bunching significantly improves the survival chances of any particular sheep.
Sheep can learn things. Mine know their names (Ike and Izzy); what the grain bucket means; when it's my car pulling in the driveway and when it isn't (I'm the caretaker and dispenser of sheep treats). They also can be taught to walk on a lead and to pull a cart. They are friendly and talkative and like to get their ears rubbed. They are soft, and they don't smell. It's easy to see why they have been part of the human experience for thousands of years.
Consequently, there are lots and lots of references to sheep in literature and art. I did some quick research online. Biblically, we've got three sheep metaphors that are repeated throughout the texts: the 23rd Psalm version of Godly people as sheep, trusting in their shepherd; Jesus as "The Lamb of God:" gentle, obedient, loving; and the black sheep, the one who breaks away from the flock and trips the light fantastic in the big city. In children's literature, there's Mary and her little lamb; Lambert the Sheepish Lion, who thinks he's a sheep and ends up saving the flock from a wolf, so he probably doesn't really count; and I'm sure lots more but I want to get to modern and contemporary poetry.
A quick Google of "sheep poems" finds a lot of awful doggerel, but also some good stuff from the 20th century. Sheep are used as a trigger for existential angst in Sylvia Plath's poem, "Sheep in Fog." James Dickey infamously gives a voice to "The Sheep-Child," a poem that makes Ike and Izzy very, very nervous. And Russell Edson has some fun with the expression "Counting Sheep" in his poem of the same title:
A scientist has a test tube full of sheep. He
wonders if he should try to shrink a pasture
They are like grains of rice.
He wonders if is possible to shrink something
out of existence.
He wonders if the sheep are aware of their tininess,
if they have any sense of scale. Perhaps they think
the test tube is a glass barn...
He wonders what he should do with them: they
certainly have less meat and wool than ordinary
sheep. Has he reduced their commercial value?
He wonders if they could be used as a substitute
for rice, a sort of woolly rice...
He wonders if he shouldn't rub them into a red paste
between his fingers.
He wonders if they are breeding, or if any of them
He puts them under a microscope, and falls asleep
from The Tunnel: Selected Poems, Oberlin College Press, 1994
Buy the book here on Amazon.com
I'd love to hear if you know of any other cool sheep poems. I'll be posting my own version -- I don't know how cool it is, but hey, they said I could post pretty much whatever I wanted.
Jon Hamm and January Jones as Don and Betty Draper
He knew how he would die. We all know that.
Some day the same as any other he'd be chewing his cud
And ruminating about the larger weather patterns
The clouds spoke of when Whump! like the trump of Doom
He would be stampeding to his death
With the whole country around him, their pounding
Hooves sounding like the drums you sometimes
Heard when the herds of horsemen camped
In some canyon close by, the very canyon it might be
In which he was destined to die.
Aiee! they would cry, or words to that effect,
As they sat by their fires beating on the stretched skin
Of one's relatives, which was their way
Of saying We won! We won! They were
An intolerable presence and he prayed
That someday someone would come, someone
Even nastier, someone even worse than the wolves,
And kill them, level their smelly villages
And cover them with rocks, like the rocks
He would lie on and rot when it came
His time to join the great stampede and die.
– Tom Disch (1940-2008)
May 1, 2008, 4:13 am
There are other worthy candidates for the title of "Most Evasive Interviewee of All Time," but Bob Dylan has surely labored the hardest to secure the title. It is not just that Dylan becomes hostile, surreal, or poetic. It is not just that he distorts reality, re-shaping it to make it more dramatic and interesting by adding what was once called a "vaudeville shine" to facts. It is not only that he slants the truth or sneaks in private references or presents useful insights packed slyly like dull afterthoughts in glittering parcels of exaggerations. It is that Dylan himself resists the stable identity necessary for any interview. He is protean. His voice, appearance, and politics shift along with his self. No such quicksilver personality can be genuinely interviewed because an interview seeks to capture the person, to present the person as a particular being at a particular time. To accept being interviewed is to accept being branded.
In April 1962, Dylan had a radio interview on WNYC with Henrietta Yurchenco, a well-connected ethnomusicologist. The interview is not discussed in any Dylan biography, and Yurchenco herself told me she wasn't sure if the program ever aired. (Henrietta Yurchenco died in 2007 at the age of 91; she wrote about the interview in her book Around the World in 80 Years.) At the interview, Yurchenco asked Dylan how he came to New York. He evaded the question. "I can't tell you because it would involve other people." For a half hour, he sidestepped all the other questions. The frustrated Yurchenco just stopped the show. After everone else had left, she snapped at him, "We haven't got a show. Why bother to come and then say nothing?" Dylan then proceeded to tell her a series of tall tales. On his first night in New York, he claimed, a man offered him to place to stay if he did some cleaning. Then, he said, he slept for the next four nights on a tabletop in a union hall. "One day," he said, "I watched the children playing in Washington Square Park; they were so happy, I decided I could be happy here, too."
That image is so delicate, so earnestly told, that it deserves to be true even if it isn't. But that's Dylan--always connecting the lines between the imagination and reality.
Okay, a little time has passed since the death of Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn so let's start getting some perspective on this man and his work. For example, Solzhenitsyn has been compared to Fyodor Mikhaelvich Dostoyevsky (1821-1881), and there certainly is some physical resemblance.
Both men faced many challenges in their lives. Both served time in prison. Both confronted serious illness. Both spent years in exile from their beloved Russia. And there are other interesting similarities. Unlike many writers, both these fellows were good at arithmetic. Solz was a mathematician and high school science teacher. Dost was trained as an engineer. (Dost disliked math, however, and even the very idea of math, for reasons beyond the scope of this sermon.) And both had mixed feelings, to say the least, about Europe and the West.
Of course, nobody can really compare with Dost. From his mock execution in his twenties to his speech about Pushkin a few months before he died, this guy could work it. At the Pushkin speech several people were so overcome that they fainted, and a garland was hung around the writer's neck lettered, "From the women of Russia." I recommend a really great novel about Dost published in 2003. It's called Summer in Baden-Baden, by Leonid Tsypkin.
When I first started thinking about Solz and Dost I believed it was going to be no contest, kind of like some of Mike Tyson's early fights. But after looking into D.M. Thomas' bio of Solz, which deals very explicitly with Solz and Dost, it turns out to be much closer than I thought -- more like the Marlboro Cup race of 1976 in which Forego and Willie Shoemaker defeated Honest Pleasure by a nose. True, Solz never faced a firing squad, but Dost did not memorize a 120,000 word poem of his own composition while incarcerated in a labor camp. So read the works of both these titans and if there's anything left of you at the end, you make the call.
Here's a pic of Dost's second wife Anna Grigorevna Snitkina. She's no Padma Lakshmi but she's not without a certain hotness, wouldn't you agree? She put up with a lot! As the late Hunter Thompson put it, "You buy the ticket and you take the ride."
This is my first post as a guest blogger on BAP this week. I'll be talking about my farm, poetry, and anything else that occurs to me.
For almost two years, I've lived on a small acreage in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, about 30 miles south of Harrisburg. My husband Rick and I spent most of our lives in Harford County, Maryland -- a once-rural place that has become, unfortunately, a perfect argument against out-of-control development, strip-mall blight, insane traffic, overpriced McMansions, and all of the consequent ills that come from an inadequate infrastructure and too damn many people. We remembered, though, what the area had been when we were children - a place full of farms and fields and wonderful woods for kids to tramp through. In memory, it was idyllic; it was safe; there were no deer ticks or poison ivy. We dreamed about the day we could move away from surburbia (usually when our next-door-neighbor had a party) and find our own version of God's little acre.
For those who wonder whether one john really is distinguishable from another, Coconut offers you the following poem from Jennifer L. Knox, which originally appeared in Coconut 7. Jen’s two books, A Gringo Like Me and Drunk by Noon (essential members of any robust poetry collection), are available from Shanna Compton’s excellent Bloof. I adore Jen, who is over 8 feet tall, has appeared in Best American Poetry more than 750 times, is a world champion professional bowler, and loves to drink Zima. There’s even a Facebook group devoted to Jen, formed by an FSU component of her rabid, stalker fan base. Or you can check her out here. I’ve solicited Coconut poems from Jen three times (she’ll appear again in a forthcoming issue!), each time asking for her weirdest work, and receiving brilliant pieces like this one.
– Bruce Covey
John Cafferty is not John Fogerty
and an ass is not a vagina.
The lawyer said so. O!
the slight, subtle distinctions
between perfume and a urinal cake.
Just because something works
doesn't mean everything worked
out. Hit and run's not hit and run
and back up, forward, back up, forward
and run over some more. "Friends"
don't do that to "friends," friend (please
be friendly and reply if you agree).
We don't have to get up, we get to
get up, every day and decide how easy
the listening will be: jock rock
("Tough All Over") versus vet rock
("Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"),
Xanax versus Ativan, etc.
-- Jennifer Knox
Editor’s note: We have asked Bruce Covey, editor of Coconut, to post a poem here from his virtual pages every Sunday from now through the end of October. Bruce will preface each poem with a brief comment.
Bob Dylan is represented in the 2006 edition of The Oxford Book of American Poetry with "Desolation Row" and this head note. We're curious to know how readers react to the inclusion of Dylan's work, the specific choice of "Desolation Row," and the statements made below. -- DL
Bob Dylan, b. 1941. The songwriter and singer was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, and spent much of his boyhood in Hibbing, near the Canadian border. He named himself after Dylan Thomas. The lyrics in three of his record albums from the mid-1960s –– Bringing it All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde –– particularly reward close analysis of the sort given to demanding examples of modern poetry. Read on the page, independent of musical accompaniment or vocal delivery, ""Desolation Row"" may be his finest lyric. The critic Christopher Ricks, who had previously written books about Milton, Keats, Tennyson, T. S. Eliot, and Samuel Beckett, devoted a lengthy volume to Dylan’s Visions of Sin in 2004. Ricks analyzes a stanza in "Desolation Row" –– the one in which Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot are "fighting in the captain’s tower" –– in relation to Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.'' Archibald MacLeish once complimented Dylan on the same lines. "Pound and Eliot were too scholastic, weren't they?'' MacLeish said. ""I knew them both. Hard men. We have to go through them. But I know what you mean when you say they are fighting in a captain's tower.'' Recalling MacLeish’s words, Dylan made no comment other than to allow that he liked Eliot, who was "worth reading,'' but disapproved of Pound's anti-American propaganda from Italy in World War II and never did read him
The second atomic bomb was dropped at 11:02 AM on this day in 1945: nicknamed "the Fat Man," the bomb devastated Nagasaki and demonstrated that the attack on Hiroshima three days earlier was repeatable. When the Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's unconditional surrender, he explained that "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage."
photos by Yosuke Yamahata
(The bittersweet conclusion of the story of my poems being set to music by the composition fellows at Tanglewood)
July 30, 2008: Grand Finale
Last night’s concert was a memorable event. Nearly 300 people—friends and Tanglewood Music Center people, musicians and people curious about the future of contemporary music—crowded into Tanglewood’s old barn of a Chamber Music Hall and spilled over onto the lawn to hear the results of this summer’s Vocal Composition Project, the first time the Tanglewood Music Center’s young fellowship composers ever got to work closely and systematically with a living poet.
I’d returned to Tanglewood the day before for the dress rehearsal, only a few days after the conclusion of the overwhelming, astonishing five-day/14-event Elliott Carter centennial celebration, at which the 99-year-old composer was present at several world premieres and in which almost all the Tanglewood fellows participated. Carter was certainly an inspiration, and a challenge, to the composition fellows. He’s one of the great setters of American and modern poetry. The festival offered memorable performances of his profound and quirky settings of Elizabeth Bishop, Quasimodo, Ungaretti, Montale, John Ashbery (who, a mere 81, was present for the premiere of Carter’s hilarious and luminous new a cappella sextet, Mad Regales, a pun—Carter loves literary puns—on “madrigals”), and, most moving of all, a recent cycle of Wallace Stevens poems, the autumnal In the Distances of Sleep, sung by the remarkable young Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey (who the week before had made another huge impression in John Harbison’s Symphony No. 5, which includes poems by Czeslaw Milosz, Louise Glück, who was also present, and Rilke). At one of the panel discussion, British conductor/composer and Carter advocate Oliver Knussen talk about how Carter’s poem settings always began with the vocal line, filling in the accompaniment later
Was this how the composition fellows were going to approach my poems?
At the rehearsal, participants and onlookers alike were breathing a sigh of relief that they had survived the exhausting Carter week.
It was a small family party
Aunt Olive who tried to save Dallas
pleased after death to have a park
named after her after death
Terrified I got up off my usual position
and didn't know whether to look or think
Afraid of an encapsulated psychosis
They were quiet: Elaine and Bill de Kooning took a look
and Kenneth so happy, surprised to have a Heaven after all
I decided to accept l0,000 years of imprisonment
if that would lighten my father's obvious punishment 'itself
lightened by his good works for workers
Meyer Schapiro looked on steadily
as if he were watching Kings of the Road
in the scene of excretion
Nothing human or divine was strange to him
And I had been crying when the 33 recording
of my grandfather voice played El Mole Rachamim
And I couldn't translate
whom he was calling supplicant
I asked for something faster or fall
Then John Hejduk arrived looking for his wife and son
happy as if he were building worlds again
And Fairfield in painting gear
who had predicted this before
that despite particulars something was the same
and my Uncle Bill born with an open heart
The dead were visiting
in the corridor
I was like a charlatan on TV
finding a smile (long) on the door
or like the philosopher who will always
wake and travel for a table risen
The dead were gathering, I saw them all
my calm father and my mother like two candles
And his grandfather Aaron atheist and good chess player
who taught me to castle early and lift my violin
My father's mother whom I hardly met
walked without me with my murdered aunts
in a nest of keys and locks
They weren't singing
As others concluded I let them go heard and listened to very little
The dead have been buried off the ground
I only saw them smile
the consolation of the need you'll say and where was Paganini,
practicing so loudly in the orchestra of heaven
where was my young dead friend Phyllis and her flute
And where I just had to look more
Before turning away in terror
A family party parting
Amateur chamber music
The delights of the dead
--David Shapiro (2004-8)
from The Hat
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.