Hanging with friends beneath lightbulbs (& other details).

Kenneth Koch! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me to read him before?! He makes me laugh! Here’s the only poem of his I knew of before the other night when I got really into reading him. It’s his perfect joke on William Carlos Williams:

Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams

1
I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer.
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
and its wooden beams were so inviting.

2
We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

3
I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the
next ten years.
The man who asked for it was shabby
and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.

4
Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!

4-2-13_BerskonJohn Ashberry, Frank O’Hara, Patsy Southgate, Bill Berkson, Kenneth Koch., 1964 (photo by Mario Schifano)

 

In other news, I should not be allowed to use eBay. eBay is not a conversation. It’s not, You want this item? Cool! What do you like about it? Wanna think about buying it? eBay is YOU BOUGHT IT.  (I may have just bought two purses by accident. I definitely bought one by accident.) Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing. 

In other other news, it’s a good thing I have two bathtubs, because one of them is filled with 15 peeping baby chicks. Photos to follow. Kate suggested we dress them up and take pictures of them and give them names and personalities. Yeah….probably gonna do that.

So spring is here because of little yellow chicks, and also because of this beautiful, good-smelling, blooming hyacinth that I was given for my birthday. Otherwise, spring is still hibernating.

 

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Teacher in my mailbox (Ilya Kaminsky).

I went to San Diego State to study with Ilya Kaminsky, and I do not regret it one bit. Yesterday, the Academy of American Poets dropped off a new poem of his in my inbox. It made me glad and it made me miss school and I drank up the poem like a glass of fresh-pressed juice.

***

A Toast

 

To your voice, a mysterious virtue,

to the 53 bones of one foot, the four dimensions of breathing,

 

to pine, redwood, sworn-fern, peppermint,

to hyacinth and bluebell lily,

 

to the train conductor’s donkey on a rope,

to smells of lemons, a boy pissing splendidly against the trees.

 

Bless each thing on earth until it sickens,

until each ungovernable heart admits: “I confused myself

 

and yet I loved–and what I loved

I forgot, what I forgot brought glory to my travels,

 

to you I traveled as close as I dared, Lord.”

 

Read this poem it will take you 5 seconds (Eileen Myles)!

Just read this poem it will only take you 5 seconds to do so and hey who knows maybe you will really love it maybe you will be like OOOOOH-KAY, POEMS, I DIG! Or maybe you’ll want to send it to a loved one or a loathed one maybe it will make you think of summertime or of the word “jumpsuit” which is not a word we get to say that often but a good word nonetheless. With a poem you really never know what’s going to happen what little locked door in your bodymind is going to get opened maybe that’s why we all have bodies and minds (so they can be opened like doors like secret trapdoors).

 

THE BEACH

Economically, not
emotionally this
color is connected
to that color
the waves
break

they really
do.

I hold on,
I hold on to you

 

-Eileen Myles

 

“My Life as a Minister” (wedding poem) (mine).

My Life as a Minister

(for Kathryn & Andy)

 

To say “You may now kiss the bride”

is a treasure far beyond

most treasures I’ve known.

A treasure of love (my bests,

 

my only kind of treasures),

a treasure built of words (my tools),

a treasure said in public

in the presence of a trove

 

of dearest friends—

a treasure known by all, the words

learned early on, the script, that scripture,

holy words of matrimony, most of which

 

I banished from the ceremony. But not

those words, and not the kiss

which with light within me

I gave permission for.

 

You may now and you may always

and may you for all the days

kiss and kiss and kiss

the bride.

***

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“The Dead Ones Can’t Sit Down” (poem) (mine).

The Dead Ones Can’t Sit Down

 

So much can reverse

between two people

 

Which loves the other more

which is taller

 

Which is more successful

which has longer hair

 

or better bedroom light

the better job or luck

 

But everyone older than I am

will retain that older glean until I die

 

Except those who die

like he did

 

at the age of twenty-four

fallen from a building

 

And now I’m twenty-seven

looking in at years to come

 

living in a house

sitting down on warm front porches

 

with friends that were his

first

 

mine second

mine last

 

Poem inspired by a painting (my poem; Clare Elsaesser’s painting)/

I am the girl with flowers in front of her face

 

I am the girl with flowers in front of her face.

You cannot see my face and all I care about

is keeping the flowers in place.

They are huger than I

& I snipped them for myself.

I can sense your attempts

to see through my cloud of pinks:

I sense you searching for an angle

that will unveil my veil

of petals. You can gaze forever

at the Mona Lisa, speak novels

of her brows, her simple little

almost-smile. But I am only

petals now. Like a pill bug

beneath a stone untouched

in a forest, I am occurring

wholly elsewhere. You may never know

where I harvested my flowers, let alone

what type of beauty or disdain

I hide.

 

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Buy it if you want it (I did).

Poem written at dusk, written right this minute (mine).

I am making plum jam and it smells divine

because of that vanilla bean steeping in it

grown by an orchid in another county’s humidity

 

Misha is outside snipping grapes off the vine

to bring to his parents

because we can’t make all the jam

 

It’s sunny now after  a day of bluster and greys

and there’s a catbird screeching near the chickens

and the rooster’s screeching back at her

 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been injured

because it would sound unimpressive

and I like to impress people with quantities

 

Multiplication has never come easy to me

not even after years of memorization

I wish numbers were something I could intuit like moods

 

Being an adult means being able to eat an entire box of macaroni & cheese

And I can do that

But only every once and a while

 

Perhaps I’m still not quite fully grown

That would be really great news for me

Because I check my upper back daily for wings

 

On the day when I finally grow my wings

I will act as nonchalant as a teenager

And fly away for a daytrip but return home at dusk

 

Because dusk is the best part about autumn

And the best part about summer too

And the best part about right this minute

 

So I’m off to enjoy this current set of minutes

Because as you know they are already flying away from me

At a pace that not even the wingful can achieve

 

“A beer and a book on a Sunday” (little poem of last night).

A beer and a book on a Sunday

 

with songs from the seventies

on in the kitchen drifting

above the dirt on the floors,

wafting beneath the smells

of basil and cheese in the oven.

In the ocean the tides move

everything slightly every

few seconds but here tonight

I am as still as a stone

in a slow-moving stream.

 

“Ode to the First Peach” (poem) (Ellen Bass).

A San Diego friend emailed me this poem this week. How did she know this was the week I was missing peaches so badly? Also missing Annie of Sweet Tree Farms, the best & coolest fruit farmer in the Whole World. We do have a couple of peach trees on the property, but no fruits yet. Although there are huge, bodacious raspberries blooming. Also blueberries. And plums! So there is really nothing for me to complain about. But ooh. The joy of eating a peach. While standing over the sink. The juice dripping down my chin. And looking out the window as I bite. And taking the pit in my fingers. And throwing it outside. Just in case. It wants to grow. Into a peach tree of its own.

 

**

Ode to the First Peach

Only one insect has feasted here,
a clear stub of resin
plugs the scar. And the hollow
where the steam was severed
shines with juice.
The fur still silvered
like a caul. Even
in the next minute
the hairs will darken,
turn more golden in my palm.
Heavier, this flesh,
than you would imagine
like the sudden
weight of a newborn.
Oh what a marriage
of citron and blush!
It could be a planet
reflected through a hall
of mirrors. Or
what a swan becomes
when a fairy shoots it
from the sky at dawn.
At the beginning of the world,
when the first dense pith
was ravished and the stars
were not yet lustrous
coins fallen from the
pockets of night,
who could have dreamed
this would be curried
from the chaos.
Scent of morning and sugar,
bruise and hunger.
Silent, swollen, clefted life,
remnant always remaking itself
out of that first flaming ripeness.