September 21, 2007

Art is Denser than a Hockey Puck


Stephen Shore, Natural Bridge, New York, July 1974

As Planned
-- by Frank O'Hara

After the first glass of vodka
you can accept just about anything
of life even you own mysteriousness
you think it is nice that a box
of matches is purple and brown and is called
La Petite and comes from Sweeden
for they are words that you know and that
is all you know words not their feelings
or what they mean and you write because
you know them not because you understand them
because you don't you are stupid and lazy
and will never be great but you do
what you know becausse what else is there?


In Response to a Rumor That the Oldest Whorehouse in Wheeling, West Virginia, Has Been Condemned
-- by James Wright

I will grieve alone,
As I strolled alone, years ago, down along
The Ohio shore.
I hid in the hobo jungle weeds
Upstream from the sewer main,
Pondering, gazing.

I saw, down river,
At Twenty-third and Water Streets
By the vinegar works,
The doors open in early evening.
Swinging their purses, the women
Poured down the long street to the river
And into the river.

I do not know how it was
They could drown every evening.
What time near dawn did they climb up the other shore,
Drying their wings?

For the river at Wheeling, West Virginia,
Has only two shores:
The one in hell, the other
In Bridgeport, Ohio.

And nobody would commit suicide, only
To find beyond death
Bridgeport, Ohio.


Dear Reader
-- by Kim Addonizio

Tonight I am amazed by all the people making love
while I sit alone in my pajamas in a foreign country
with my dinner of cookies and vodka. And I am amazed
that my own country still exists, though I am not in it
to speak its language or break its drug laws. How astonishing

to realize that I am not the glass being shattered
on the street below, or the laughter that follows it;
I'm not even one of the congregation on my small TV,
getting the Lord's good news, though I can reach
the screen by leaning forward, and touch

the wavering line of each transfigured face. I tell you
I can't get over it sometimes, I still have trouble
believing that an egg deep inside my own body
went and turned into someone else, who right now
is on a tour boat on the river, having forgotten

how she used to hold on to my legs whenever I tried
to leave the room. Right now, somewhere I am not,
the history of the world is being decided,
and the terrible things I'd rather not think of
go on and on without stopping, while I separate

the two halves of another cookie and lick
the creem filling, and pour myself one more
and drink to you, dear reader, amazed
that you are somewhere in the world without me,
listening, trying to hold me in your hands.


Power
-- by Adrienne Rich

Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

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