Today is my last day of classes. Most significantly, today is the last day of the intro to creative writing class I’ve been teaching this semester. I will miss my class; they made me laugh & taught me about the Fibonacci sequence. They worked hard and wrote risky poems. We all have to recite a poem in honor of the last day, and then they will hand in their portfolios, and then I will want to hug them all, but I will not. And I will begin by reciting this, by James Schuyler:
Letter Poem #3
The night is quiet
as a kettle drum
the bullfrog basses
tuning up. After
swimming, after sup-
per, a Tarzan movie,
dishes, a smoke. One
planet and I
wish. No need
of words. Just
you, or rather,
us. The stars tonight
in pale dark space
are clover flowers
in a lawn the expanding
universe in which
we love it is
our home. So many
galaxies and you my
my star, my sun, my
other self, my bet-
ter half, my one
from Schuyler’s dairies, which I spent last Thursday rifling through at the UCSD archives. Each day a new page in the typewriter.
“Most people don’t know how much time even a very short poem takes, even one just dashed down–trying to get it right. And the rest of us forget.” -January 4, 1968
“The visit to Darragh and Bridgehampton awakened a great longing for country living: I like the city, but I like to see things growing, to see blue and trembling skies, walk on the winter shore: the whole bag of tricks.” -October 15, 1984
A friend is a poem is a friend is a poem, and sometimes this is true on a Monday.
as my favorite poet, i thought i should send you a poem i really like. today i am making paninis with honey-mustard. i don’t know how to spell ‘panini’ and either does the computer. i miss you.
Snow by David Berman
Walking through a field with my little brother Seth
I pointed to a place where kids had made angels in the snow.
For some reason, I told him that a troop of angels
had been shot and dissolved when they hit the ground.
He asked who had shot them and I said a farmer.
Then we were on the roof of the lake.
The ice looked like a photograph of water.
Why he asked. Why did he shoot them.
I didn’t know where I was going with this.
They were on his property, I said.
When it’s snowing, the outdoors seem like a room.
Today I traded hellos with my neighbor.
Our voices hung close in the new acoustics.
A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling.
We returned to our shoveling, working side by side in silence.
But why were they on his property, he asked.
A piece from my creative translation project of last semester, made up of letter poems: letters to Alice Notley, from all sorts of cool ladies, turned into poems. This one’s based off of a letter from Anne Waldman. You poets might recognize some of the names she’s referencing.
Thanks to Heather for her handwriting.
Scanner inspiration comes from Frankie.
I always seem to be trying to do six or seven different poems at the same time and just hoping I can keep them all well-nurtured enough so that one of them will suddenly get strong enough to take over all by itself until it is done.
-Elizabeth Bishop, in a letter to Robert Lowell
Love Poem, 7 of __
I was speaking to Natasha yesterday over tea
and she asked me, What keeps you breathing?
Funny to inquire about what we’ve never
presided over. I considered this question as one
about stillness and answered your name.
From the heavens, nothing on earth
is in motion. Be well until I’m there
to ensure it.
All my love,