September 19, 2007

I'm a bit like the freelance fence painter


Dana Ellyn, War: As American As Apple Pie, 2007


This Was Once a Love Poem
-- by Jane Hirshfield

This was once a love poem, before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short, before it found itself sitting, perplexed and a little embarrassed, on the fender of a parked car, while many people passed by without turning their heads. It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement. It remembers choosing these shoes, this scarf or tie. Once, it drank beer for breakfast, drifted its feet in a river side by side with the feet of another. Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy, dropping its head so the hair would fall forward, so the eyes would not be seen. IT spoke with passion of history, of art. It was lovely then, this poem. Under its chin, no fold of skin softened. Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat. What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall. An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks. The longing has not diminished. Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat, the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus. Yes, it decides: Many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots. When it finds itself disquieted by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life, it will touch them—one, then another— with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.


Hand
-- by Jane Hirshfield

A hand is not four fingers and a thumb.

Nor is it palm and knuckles,
not ligaments or the fat's yellow pillow,
not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins.

A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines
with their infinite dramas,
nor what it has written,
not on the page,
not on the ecstatic body.

Nor is the hand its meadows of holding, of shaping—
not sponge of rising yeast-bread,
not rotor pin's smoothness,
not ink.

The maple's green hands do not cup
the proliferant rain.
What empties itself falls into the place that is open.

A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question.

Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs.


Ill-Made Almighty
-- by Heather McHugh

"No man has more assurance than a bad poet." - Martial

The logos thrives, it is crawling
with bugs. The lecturers, below,

are memorific, futurized, dead-certain
they'll go unsurprised. They don't

know nows as you do, true to no
clear destination. (You can't even act

your age, it's over-understudied.) Steady
as you go. The greatest waves are barely

bearable, alive's ill-read already,
and the Skipper is sick of the terribly lit

graffiti in the head.


america
-- by Klipschutz

I want all the women
all the money
all the fun

I want every rainbow
all the marbles
and a personalized introduction to God

I want a death list
transparent skin
and a cat with no fur

I want everything
I have nothing
I will negotiate

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