Hey Rachel if that’s your name how come the daily special is always the same? Even a lousy anchovy can vary its game an egg over easy has something it overcame Hey Rachel if that’s your name
Hey Rachel if that’s your name the light under your bushel is dying of shame even a soda fountain can express an aim an awful pie counter can make a counterclaim against my plaintive songs of love through the diner where you cook can’t you take off your food handler’s glove at least while you cock a snook at my calling out from beyond the soda fountain at my calling out from behind the mountain?
Hey Rachel if that’s your name must you always stand vigil in the kitchen doorframe? even this infernal fan can take some blame a stinking back burner can cherish a flame Hey Rachel if that’s your name
But first, the runners up.Last month, we announced The Third Annual Best American Poetry Poem Challenge, for which poets were invited towrite
an inaugural ode, suitable for reading aloud on January 20, 2009. It
had to consist of sixteen lines broken into four quatrains, rhyme
scheme optional. Furthermore, the ode had to include one line lifted
from a poem in The Best American Poetry 2008 or from the book's foreword or introduction, and also include at least three of the following words: honor, integrity, faith, hope, change, power. Poet Mark Strand selected the winner and runners up.
Yesterday, we announced third place winners Valentina Gnup and Michael Schiavo. Read their poems here and here.
An Inaugural Prayer comes to us from R. S. Gwynn of Beaumont, Texas. Thank you, R.S. and congratulations!
An Inaugural Prayer
Lord, Whom we may not mention
By name, Great Undefined,
Lend us one dimension
Of Thine awful mind.
The words will come--faith, power,
Integrity, and change--
To be bartered in this hour,
And may those words estrange
Us from our friends and neighbors
In long-drawn arguments
Till the fruits of our labors
Ripen to common sense.
Let no vote be decided
Save when we disagree.
A nation undivided
Never can be free.
-- by R. S. Gwynn
(The first four words of line 5 are taken from R. T. Smith's
"Pentecost"; the second word of line 13 is line 6 of Charles
Bernstein's "Ku(na)hay," and the first word of line 15 is line 19 of
the same poem.)
I come to praise the year, not to bury it. What a wack bag of tricks this passing year was, a scatter of events as cracked as a cubist. Great lows, great highs (yes we can), and great contradictioned collisions. Of the last, a local case in point:
I decided a few years back that I'd say what I think and feel, if I can, even should it cause me some trouble. It isn't that I am unusually radical in any direction, but that I hold so many directions that especially in this age of branding, I confuse my audience. A person who varies their actions along with their interests makes the shopper nervous. I myself remember, as late as grad school, being a bit rattled when I saw in the learned astronomer's Also By This Author included in the list some oddfellows: poetry or a cookbook. What the? In a phrase we all learn from our Indo-American friends: "What is he playing at?" I was even then a poet/historian but it still made me twitch. Well, children like their food unmixed.
I have a poem in my new unpublished that is called Please Use This Against Me, where I note that "future me" might be offered fruit or office and be tempted to join the bad machine and how can I stop her? By telling you my fellow knees and Miss. Dee Meenors. My sins on a platter. But I tell em slant. Still, it's a good idea, right? So I'm already sunk and can do what I want.
Still, Imagine being on video, on the web, in two different news spots within two weeks, (no, not news videos that many of you likely normally watch) one on Al Jazeera's Riz Khan show, I'm arguing with a priest about the Vatican's recent condemnation of all contraception and stem cell stuff, etc.; and the other on Agence France Presse (AFP) being "The Professor" at the Poetry Brothel (the production of Stephanie Berger and Nick Adamski, graduates of the New School MFA) (there will be another Poetry Brothel soon, in January I think -- I'll let people know here and on Facebook yes, Friend me, I'll click you in).
I mean really! I'm not linking to these things because the latter one makes me blush and the former one, while I'm pleased with my own performance, the priest I am arguing with speaks so slowly and repeats himself a lot so it is dullsville.
Anyway, you get the idea without moving visuals.
So there you have it. Against the slogan of our fine military, I believe we should Be All That You Can't Be.
Heh, heh. I think I'm almost there.
And you, my ethereal friends? Are you too many things, and feel it's to your own good? Despite the nervousness it causes in others? I bet you do. Because you rock. I can tell from here.
What is it about the circle that suggests itself as a poem form for a sacred season?
I'm thinking here of a beautiful Christmas "garland" by Marilyn Hacker, called "A Christmas Crown." It begins, "Son of the dark solstice descends the tree/into the winter city" and ends six sonnets later with "The children sing/below our gossip. Roast and fruit and wine/and smoke mix in the air near dinnertime./The guests file foodward while the darkening/sun of the dark solstice descends the tree."
Long ago last spring, when the season was all shoots and ladders, poetry correspondent Mitch Sisskind posted a Poetic Term of the Day. He instructed us that Serpentine Verses are poems comprised of lines that begin and end with the same word. BAP leader extraordinaire, David Lehman, then demonstrated with a serpentine verse of his own in the Comments section. Such poetry circles make little loops out of each line; links in a chain disconnected from each subsequent link. Mirror poems, by contrast, are one bigger Circle: their end words repeat in reverse order, iterating themselves on the way in and the way out.
So here in the Spirit of the Circle is a modified depiction of both these poetic shapes by long-dead genius, George Herbert. His "A Wreath" turns the serpentine line progressive, connecting each chunk of chain to the one that follows, and finally clasping it around with a complete mirror. Here it goes:
A Wreath A wreathed garland of deserved praise, Of praise deserved, unto thee I give, I give to thee, who knowest all my ways, My crooked winding ways, wherein I live, Wherein I die, not live: for life is straight, Straight as a line, and ever tends to thee, To thee, who art more far above deceit Then deceit seems above simplicity. Give me simplicity, that I may live, So live and like, that I may know they ways, Know them and practice them: then shall I give For this poor wreath, give thee a crown of praise.
So, Writers, as we shoot and ladder forward into 2009, here's my wish for you all: a season that circles as it climbs, that mirrors only the best. As the short days fade, Writers write: write and bloom.
The holidays are said to give one a chance to get in touch with others but what held back that chance the rest of the year? What it means is that the holidays are a time when we should behave like other people, as if in junior high school, jury duty, or the Army, whereas what Philip Whalen wanted was to take a holiday from holidays, and then he wavered, beautifully.