Sunday, November 9, 2008

"The Mystic Chords of Memory"

Slept late after going to Philadelphia and back for a Drive-by Truckers show. My friend thinks Our Beautiful Cooley looks a little ragged, but he'll always look good to me. Nothing quite as nice as a skinny man with a big guitar. Lunch with DD, and over a bowl of restorative cheese grits, this popped into my mind at seeing the handsome face of James Merrill looking out from a three-column photo in the Times book review.

Caught in the Act

Like hell the photographer surprised you.
I'll accept the authenticity
of the cluttered bookcase, even
the arabesque upholstery, though I suspect
Your partner picked it out.
I did the math, too: Mid-fifties,
It's cold to have your shirt unbuttoned
So very far, isn't it? I see the sisters
To your forearms in my mirror,
The ropy muscles and the veins alike,
And that pleasing, elegant precision
Of the cheekbones; I imagine, like you,
I earned these without ever appearing to--
The artifice of the daily strain against sag,
The philter and the poultice. Yet
This noon light's revealed again that nothing
Has stopped the conqueror worm
From taking up residence in my very skin
And eating me up from within.
On top of my own cluttered bookcase
Perches my Ouija board, for decorative
And entertainment purposes only.
You dead might give me pages and pages
But I'm not hearing it, not today.

Surely, you can do better than that. Enter the poetry contest, and I'll stop calling you Shirley.

Oh, well, haul your tired caboose back onto the Hope train, girl: Here's something else beautiful.

9 comments:

mark said...

The trees around Philly
reach and find only me
their fingers have fallen
their digits have stopped
adding
i smile as i read
and i know she is getting better
with her poetry
it is exciting to witness growth
as so much around me withers...
she was here and she was as still
as i
the trees around here
cover only me.

David said...

David says:
Comment space is too short for da lines

Note to Trees

Trees, it's almost Thanksgiving
and as promised you're coming
naked--along with all your /relatives
hauling acorns beechnuts buckeye
nuts moldy maple wings and such.
Leave them at the door.
Don't start in on gifts to the poor
squirrels and other fluffy rats, /and don't ever
lapse into that annual rant after
several glasses of wine, death is /the mother
of beauty. Death is a motherfucker.
The place cards are set
yet once more--be on your best /behavior;
don't forget who this day is for.

---signed Me

David said...

David says forget the "/"'s in the poem

Maria Padhila said...

damn. DAMN. i'm humbled.

Sorry about the line breaks problem on the comments. I know, but it works anyway.

mark said...

"damn. DAMN. i'm humbled."

...what are you, a lake trout?

Pam said...

This is a wonderful poem. Thanks for sharing it.

I'm way too competition-averse to enter a contest right now, having just lost my job and feeling like dogshit. So call me Shirley if you'd like.

Maria Padhila said...

You're just in the avant-garde on the job thing. I have little doubt most of us will be following in that path before long. And feel free to virtually smack me, but it is kind of a sign that you're meant to be writing, not doing whatever dull things they had you at.

mark said...

signs, signs, everywhere a sign,
blockin' up the scenery, blowin' my mind....

Rachel said...

Every time my hands touch paper I touch a tree,
Sucking up the dark water,
Encasing space
Felled, stripped and pulped
Stretched out before me your white corpse
Shaved into thin sheaves
Waits for new born words