I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.
This is not America, this is the cover version:
sun, sex, sin, divine intervention, death and destruction,
welcome to The Sodom and Gomorrah Show.
You give me the loose tooth of California, the broken jaw of New York City.
I was pirouette and flourish,
I was filigree and flame.
Poetry is the past that breaks out in our hearts.
I believe in poetry as a way of surviving the emotional chaos, spiritual confusions, and traumatic events that come with being alive.
You drive like a man,
they said by way of praise, and if a poem
of ours seemed worthy they said, you write like a man.
When asked what woman poet they read, with one
voice they declaimed, Emily Dickinson.
Saintly Emily safely dead. Modern
women poets were dismissed as immature,
their poems pink with the glisten of female organs.
The virus of their disdain hung in the air
but women were now infected with ambition.
I am in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.
What had she thought, that love was a toy, something easy and sweet, just to play with? Real love was dangerous, it got you from inside and held on tight, and if you didn’t let go fast enough you might be willing to do anything for its sake.
Nature kills constantly, and we call her beautiful.
Awful things are survivable, because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be. When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irrepairably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations.
I, too, dislike it.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in
it, after all, a place for the genuine.
Poetry About Bears
Trapped in a cave of soggy wool,
mistakenly swallowed bones,
some distant fishy smell, the juice
of red hard berries, soft wild blueberries, woodland strawberries,
the foraged corks of black walnuts,
I curl in valley at the bottom of your stomach
where apple seeds swallowed whole sprout
young-necked and curious.
I eat only what the bear can spare: chewed hunks of salmon,
if I’m lucky, a drop or two of cold white water.
Dead riches, dead hands, the moon
And I am lost in the beautiful white ruins
James Wright, “Having Lost My Sons, I Confront the Wreckage of the Moon: Christmas, 1960”
This summer is shaping up to be uniquely American.