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« Lovesick [poem by Major Jackson] | Main | May Swenson's Four-word Lines »

January 07, 2024


Brilliant. Love the ending

Beautiful in a zillion ways. Terence-- I like the irony of the Rubens you chose— fleshy yet masculine in a way, and totally impossible in its proportions

Clarinda---thanks for the comment.

Wonderful poem, wonderful visuals, as always.

I always regarded Rubens’ languorous, hypertrophic nudes as the antithesis of today’s geared-up, gym-membership devotees trying to look fitter, thinner, more muscular, or otherwise “cut.” Carefree nudity yielded to covered shame in the postlapsarian world, and Chris Banks deftly limns what was lost in losing an Eden of ease and exposure. We humans thrive on hiding, and what’s titillating must be tucked away or tithed, as Banks concedes here: “I look at some / priests, and wonder if they will implode / from human longing.” That same piquant wit also surfaces here: “My girlfriend / tells me I need to write more poems / about sex, but the Angel of Suffering / keeps telling me I’ll go blind from all / the innuendo and erections.” (To “go blind from all the … erections” is a variant of a warning issued by some priests to discourage pubescent Catholic boys who confess they masturbate or, as Frank McCourt noted, “interfere with themselves.”) The poem ends with a series of buoying “maybe’s” and a sinking, non-edenic caveat: “Maybe / there is a garden of human delights / for sale down the street. / Maybe we can / match the asking price if we combine / our incomes. Maybe we can live there. / Maybe be happy. Despite the thorns.” Chris Banks proves he is a gardener of human delights in this highly accomplished and, yes, prickly poem.

Wonderful comment. Thanks, Earle!

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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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