“And perhaps the sexes are more closely related than we think, and the great renewal of the world will perhaps consist in man and woman, freed of all sense of error and disappointment, seeking one another out not as opposites but as brothers and sisters and neighbors, and they will join together as human beings, to share the heavy weight of sexuality that is laid upon them with simplicity, gravity and patience.” -Rilke, 1903
I’m preparing to moderate a panel on this beautiful new Penguin Classics addition with Sarah Manguso and Lewis Hyde, May 15:
As we make the seamless transition from National Poetry Month to Mental Health Awareness Month, here’s a relevant video poem, by artist Jorge Colombo and me.
NaPoWriMo #4: Epithalamium
If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. - Emily Dickinson
The top of my head comes off
at weddings now,
when the bride and groom dip
their fingers in honey
to seal in the sweetness, or
when the groom picks his mother
for a dance to a song
I’ve never cried to before.
Let’s face it:
there are few songs a DJ can play
that don’t remind me of someone
now lost to me in every way,
barring these burnished words.
The only songs without memories
are the new ones.
When you said you’d only dance
if I never let go of your hands,
I knew that was poetry.
When I visited Emily’s house
last spring and and there was
her single white dress
in a glass case like a ghost,
I knew that was poetry, too.
9. Other people randomly confess their secrets to you without warning or provocation, but you do not stop them.
Story of my life! I am like a confession receptacle.
Note to self: write poem called “confession receptacle.”
NaPoWriMo #2: The Orchard Thief
There was nowhere to go from where I was.
Nerves? Check. Blood? Enough to skate on.
I left crumbs of my heart on the dirt path
so I’d be able to find my way back to you,
Liz, but one of the problems was I misread
the title and so the other problem
was basically how to steal an orchard?
Tenderly, by night? Or in a coup?
To keep from freaking
I tried to remember words
like sloe and mollify, what
they meant, but their meanings were as lost
as I was. Somewhere, someone
intimidating was making sloe
and mollify come alive,
but I just had my nerves
and the earth and terms
that said if I didn’t pull this off,
no one would ever
be intimidated by me
ever so I picked up my axe
and I counted to ten.
NaPoWriMo #1: After Howl
I saw the worst minds of my generation
getting into the best writing programs
in the country. I saw the best minds
blogging pseudonymously, discovering
new ways to be naked in the dark.
The hotel near the airport was called Mercure
and it was hard to know if this was erroneous,
or remedial for the seasick, and so I checked in.
Ginsberg was there and we split
a space cake, compared hungers and
highs, agreed that abroad everything
is either strange or familiar.
Ginsberg, I whispered, my poetry has turned
from joyride to migraine: I lie in the dark
and black out and no angels come.
Wouldn’t know what that’s like,
he said, which meant statistically
I was fucked.
I was a binder full of stroganoff
and still howling, still hungry.
Bachelor Finale: I’M FEELING REALLY CALM BUT I’M GETTING REALLY EXCITED
Today I’m going to continue asking myself
this question: can I marry this person?
Hopefully now you can see the dilemma that I’m in.
It’s a big risk to be yourself.
Is it love? I’m consumed by him.
I want to hang out with him for the rest of my life.
His kisses just kind of tell me it all.
It was much more serious after that for me.
I can see this on a Saturday afternoon,
the six of us, eating lunch together.
This really could happen.
Most of us in our lives
have thought we were in love with someone.
At the end of the day, it’s where’s my heart
telling me to go?
I can picture you being a hot old chick.
You’ve been such a surprise.