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« Celebrate Independence: George Balanchine's Stars and Stripes [by Stacey Lehman] | Main | Ted Berrigan on the 38th Anniversary of his Death: Posthumous Pick of the Month [ed. Terence Winch] »

July 04, 2021



The vulgarity of insects buzzing to and fro, “like a jet off radar”. Maybe our hearts can open when we become a spec of stardust within a handful of soil.

What a delight. Raymond, come out from your hiding place. Olly Olly in Come Free. You have someone to thank.

oh the shame we did not deserve becomes wonderful poetry.

This terrific poem brought back a vivid memory from my own elementary school years. In 4th grade (or thereabouts) we were taught to make candles by dipping our wicks (ok, there's a vulgar image for you) into a big vat of melted wax. We'd file into the school kitchen, dip, and go out, circling in and out of the kitchen as the wax hardened and our candles thickened. So some students were in the kitchen, others outside waiting to go back in. A couple of the boys kissed Lynn Kaiser and they dared me to do it, too. So I did, kissing her on her forehead, just at the moment when the teacher looked out at us from the kitchen (no doubt we caused something of a commotion). So while Larry and Mark got away with it, I had to stay after school and receive a stern lecture from said teacher. I was not, she declared, a gentleman! I took my punishment like a gentleman and did not implicate the other kissers. Poetry can have a powerful effect on memory--this one really worked for me! Many thanks for posting it, T.

Wonderful poem and kiss, Roy L.'s and Gardner's "kiss that burned him to a blossom of tears."

Howard: thanks for that comment. You should turn it into a poem.

This is a trip down memory lane. I chased Connie McCarthy around the corner and planted a kiss on his cheek. His mother told my mother but it was worth it. I was in the first grade of elementary school. I love poems that help us recall an adventure even a small one!

Thank you, Eileen, for that comment.

Thanks to all of you for your generous responses! Gardner

The poem is suffused with the author's guilt, expanded by her teacher and her parents, but there is a marvelous freedom at the end when Raymond's burning cheek becomes a pyre that burns the guilt away, like a biblical holocaust sacrifice.

I love the poem First Kiss. I guess because it resonates so completely with me. Thank you Terence for sharing this.

Linda: thanks for the comment.

This poem is a delight with its lovely light touch about guilt and first love, and the poet's need, like our own, when we are very young, to cover up the true reason for the kiss.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


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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