May 4, 2004

Influence
-- by Jonathan Johnson

Halliday's in Italy and Koch is dead
(though I admit Koch never meant much to me).
What matters is he made Halliday feel understood
in (I imagine) much the way Halliday made me.
I read him and knew I was free.
A few years later he read me
and just often enough responded enthusiastically
(all the more shining as he's known for being curmudgeonly.
At least when it comes to poems. The opposite's true of his
company.)

Writing poems is lonely.
At its best at least it has almost nothing to do with loyalty.
But today I'm sad for Halliday
and the new way he's on his own.
Far from home. A rolling stone. And
(as far as Koch's concerned) a complete unknown.

Reverence
--by Sarah Manguso

Love not the rider but the old rider,
the ghost in the saddle: Obey that ghost.
A good horse runs even at the shadow of the whip.
But we are not good horses.
We bolt. We stand still in bad weather.
We rely on things we know are unreliable,
it feels so good just to rely.
We are relied on.
But I do not know who knows that bad secret.
I do not see who sits astride by back,
who cuts my flank so lovingly on our way to the dark mountain.

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