September 13, 2006

the wind brought her scent overseas

Finished Housing, Lakewood, California, 1950 by
William A. Garnett, who died this week at age 89. rip.

Three poems by Jack Gilbert:

Seen From Above

In the end, Hannibal walked out of his city
saying the Romans wanted only him. Why should
his soldiers make love to their swords?
He walked out alone, a small figure in
the great field, his elephant dead at
the bottom of the Alps' crevasses. So might we
go to our Roman death in triumph. Our love
is of marble and large tawny roses,
in the endless harvests of our defeat.
We have slept with death all our lives.
It will grind out its graceless victory,
but we can limp in triumph over the cold
intervening sand.

Maybe Very Happy

After she died he was seized
by a great curiosity about what
it was like for her. Not that he
doubted how much she loved him.
But he knew there must have been
some things she had not liked.
So he went to her closest friend
and asked what she complained of.
"its all right," he had to keep
saying, "I really won't mind."
Until the friend finally gave in.
"She said sometimes you made a noise
drinking your tea if it was very hot."

Doing Poetry

Poem, you sonofabitch, it's bad enough
that I embarrass myself working so hard
to get it right even a little,
and that little grudging and awkward.
But it's afterwards I resent, when
the sweet sure should hold me like
a trout in the bright summer stream.
There should be at least briefly
access to your glamour and tenderness.
But there's always this same old
dissatisfactions instead.


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