“Shadow is a fate you involved.” ~ Carmen Giménez Smith, from “Déjà Vu”

Alice Neel The Sea 1947 oil on canvas

“The Sea” (1947, oil on canvas)
by Alice Neel

                   

I feel as if I have been run over and left on rusty monkey-bars to dry in the winter sun.

Is it January 31st yet?

This video made me cry:

Brandi Carlile, “That Wasn’t Me”

                    

Oh well. Poetry for your Sunday afternoon . . .

The National Book Critics Circle Award 2013 Finalists for Poetry:

Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion (Knopf)

Denise Duhamel, Blowout (University of Pittsburgh Press)

Bob Hicok, Elegy Owed (Copper Canyon)

Carmen Gimenez Smith, Milk and Filth (University of Arizona Press)

                   

Carpe Demon

Where is your father whose eye you were the apple of?

Where are your mother’s parlor portieres, her slip-covered days, her petticoats?

In the orchard at the other end of  time, you were just a child in ballet slippers,

Your first poodle skirt, your tortoiseshell barrettes. As the peach tree grew more

Scarce each day, you kept running out to try to tape the leaves back on their boughs.

Once, I caught you catch a pond of sunlight in your lap and when you stood,

The sunlight spilt; it could never follow you. Once, above the river,

You told me you were born to be a turtle, swimming down. Under the bridge

Now you take your meals where the thinnest creatures live at the end

Of the world. Carpe Demon, you told me just before you put down the phone

And drank the antifreeze. This year, the winter sky in Missouri is a kind of cold

The color of a turtle’s hood, a soup of dandelion, burdock root, and clay.

~ Lucie Brock-Broido

                   

O my pa-pa

Our fathers have formed a poetry workshop.
They sit in a circle of disappointment over our fastballs
and wives. We thought they didn’t read our stuff,
whole anthologies of poems that begin, My father never,
or those that end, and he was silent as a carp,
or those with middles which, if you think
of the right side as a sketch, look like a paunch
of beer and worry, but secretly, with flashlights
in the woods, they’ve read every word and noticed
that our nine happy poems have balloons and sex
and giraffes inside, but not one dad waving hello
from the top of a hill at dusk. Theirs
is the revenge school of poetry, with titles like
“My Yellow Sheet Lad” and “Given Your Mother’s Taste
for Vodka, I’m Pretty Sure You’re Not Mine.”
They’re not trying to make the poems better
so much as sharper or louder, more like a fishhook
or electrocution, as a group
they overcome their individual senilities,
their complete distaste for language, how cloying
it is, how like tears it can be, and remember
every mention of their long hours at the office
or how tired they were when they came home,
when they were dragged through the door
by their shadows. I don’t know why it’s so hard
to write a simple and kind poem to my father, who worked,
not like a dog, dogs sleep most of the day in a ball
of wanting to chase something, but like a man, a man
with seven kids and a house to feed, whose absence
was his presence, his present, the Cheerios,
the PF Flyers, who taught me things about trees,
that they’re the most intricate version of standing up,
who built a grandfather clock with me so I would know
that time is a constructed thing, a passing, ticking fancy.
A bomb. A bomb that’ll go off soon for him, for me,
and I notice in our fathers’ poems a reciprocal dwelling
on absence, that they wonder why we disappeared
as soon as we got our licenses, why we wanted
the rocket cars, as if running away from them
to kiss girls who looked like mirrors of our mothers
wasn’t fast enough, and it turns out they did
start to say something, to form the words hey
or stay, but we’d turned into a door full of sun,
into the burning leave, and were gone
before it came to them that it was all right
to shout, that they should have knocked us down
with a hand on our shoulders, that they too are mystified
by the distance men need in their love.

~ Bob Hicok

 

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