Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Poem of the Week 9/25/2006: from The Merchant of Venice

from The Merchant of Venice, Act 3 Scene 2

Madam, you have bereft me of all words.
Only my blood speaks to you in my veins,
And there is such confusion in my powers
As after some oration finally spoke
By a beloved prince, there doth appear
Among the buzzing pleased multitude,
Where every something being blent together
Turns to a wild nothing save of joy
Expressed and not expressed.

William Shakespeare

We are reading this play in my Shakespeare class, and this small exerpt leapt straight into my mind and hasn't left since. It is such a gem, a pure distillation of love. Oh gorgeous.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Poem of the Week 9/18/2006: from Love at Thirty-Two Degrees

from Love at Thirty-Two Degrees


Last night I threw my lab coat in the fire
& drove all night through the Arizona desert
with a thermos full of silver tequila.

It was the last of what we bought
on our way back from Guadalajara--
desert wind in the mouth, your mother's
beat-up Honda, agaves
twisting up from the soil
like the limbs of cephalopods.

Outside of Tucson, saguaros so lovely
considering the cold, & the fact that you
weren't there to warm me.
Suddenly drunk I was shouting that I wanted to see the stars
as my ancestors used to see them--

to see the godawful blue as Aurvandil's* frostbitten toe.


Then, there is the astronomer's wife
ascending stairs to her bed.

The astronomer gazes out,
one eye at a time,

to a sky that expands
even as it falls apart

like a paper boat dissolving in bilge.
Furious, fuming stars.

When his migrane builds &
lodges its dark anchor behind

the eyes, he fastens the wooden buttons
of his jacket, & walks

outside with a flashlight
to keep company with the barn owl

who stares back at him with eyes
that are no greater or less than

a spiral galaxy.
The snow outside

is white & quiet
as a woman's slip

against cracked floorboards.
So he walks to the house

inflamed by moonlight, & slips
into the bed wiht his wife

her hair & arms all
in disarray

like fish confused by waves.



beyond pheromones, hormones, aesthetics of bone,
every time I make love for love's sake alone,

I betray you.

Katherine Larson 2006

*a semi-demi God from Norse mythology; connected to the constellation Orion

THIS poem mentions one of my great fantasies that I have not been able to shut up about over the last couple of months. No, I am not talkiing about making love after looking at the stars, but seeing the stars as they are without light pollution. I love the idea of getting wasted in the desert and shouting at the moon, of the presence of a loved one when he is gone, of playing with ideas of warmth and coldness, warmth among coldness...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Poem of the Week 9/11/2006: Henry's Understanding

Henry's Understanding

He was reading late, at Richard's, down in Maine,
aged 32? Richard & Helen long in bed,
my good wife long in bed.
All I had to do was strip & get into my bed,
putting the marker in the book, & sleep,
& wake to a hot breakfast.

Off the coast was an island, P'tit Manaan,
the bluff from Richard's lawn was almost sheer.
A chill at four o'clock.
It only takes a few minutes to make a man.
A concentration upon now & here.
Suddenly, unlike Bach,

& horribly, unlike Bach, it occured to me
that one night, instead of warm pajamas,
I'd take off all my clothes
& cross the damp cold lawn & down the bluff
into the terrible water & walk forever
under it toward the island.

John Berryman 1972

ALSO see the March 2006 archive for another poem from The Dream Songs that I love love love. I really will write on this blog again, but it may not be for a while.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Poem of the Week 9/4/2006: Trane


Propped against the crowded bar
he pours into the curved and silver horn
his old unhappy longing for a home

the dancers twist and turn
he leans and wishes he could burn
his memories to ashes like some old notorious emperor

of rome. but no stars blazed across the sky when he was born
no wise men found his hovel. this crowded bar
where dancers twist and turn

holds all the fame and recognition he will ever earn
on earth or heaven. he leans against the bar
and pours his old unhappy longing in the saxophone

Kamau Brathwaite 1977

* Nickname of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane (1926-1967).