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« SAVE THE DATE ITHACA: February 27, 2020 David Lehman reads from "One Hundred Autobiographies: A Memoir" | Main | from "Literary Matters," A Poem by A. F. Moritz: "High Windows" »

February 21, 2020

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Happy Birthday to an amazing poet and most delightful man! I was lucky to have him read for me twice!
Blessings & a dance for him on his birthday!!

Here's my Stern-inspired birthday rant:
from MASQUE (Tupelo Press, 2008) and originally
in The Journal

RANT MASK

I think I never
slept that night. I only dozed. And ranted.
-Gerald Stern

And then suddenly you are forty
and you want to take out the little pocket knife
the one with a red rabbit’s foot attached, and you want
to peel your own skin and call out in the darkness
to no one in particular since the body temperature rises
with each thought and the sounds outside enter your gut
like red pepper, sounds that by now have moved on up the street
with a tail of leaves and candy wrappers made for children screaming
in the car, made for the time you forgot what you wanted
to say and happened to look below on the pavement running
its white and gray knuckles down your imaginary spine,
and you said to yourself -- that is what time does, that
is where it goes -- only to catch your breath
for you when you least expect it and when someone
you love expects nothing more of you
as if the self has lost its mother memory in the movie theater
and like Swiss clockwork your hands had to touch
your face just one more time to be sure how far
you have come, out of the suspended hive of desire,
out of the kingdom of strangers with the blood
pressure of dreaming, the soaking sheets
and graveyard hair, the whiskey breath shoes and shine
of water glasses, all the while telling yourself it will be OK,
a Vivaldi’s season, all the while not wanting
anything else but to be conscious, awake
when field lightning counts down the days
leaving glowworms and aftersex behind,
the full jacket of terror that you might have missed
something, perhaps the ghosthair of dust moving
under the bed or decaled words pasted on your tongue
while you squandered the petty cash of holding back,
your hands held down in the icy water
at the mouth of a winter carp
mistaking your finger for a piece of the last food
God had intended for some other fish.

Elena Karina Byrne

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly

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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

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