Lynn Emanuel on Monday

I’ve posted poems by Lynn Emanuel twice before, but I can’t resist posting this one, which feels so appropriate at this moment when everything is so provisional. I was lucky to meet Lynn and her husband when Lynn came to read at Marin Poetry Center two years ago. Larry did a wonderful broadside of her poem, “Blond Bombshell.”  Lynn was generous enough to blurb my new book, which also endears me to her. And on top of all that, I love this poem:

My Life

Like Jonas by the fish was I received by it,
swung and swept in its dark waters,
driven to the deeps by it and beyond many rocks.

Without any touching of its teeth I tumbled into it
and without more struggle than a mote of dust
entering the door of a cathedral, so muckle were its jaws.

How heel over head was I hurled down

the broad road of its throat, stopped inside
its chest wide as a hall, and like Jonas I stood up

asking where the beast was and finding it nowhere,

there in grease and sorrow I built my bower.


Lynn Emanuel
The Nerve of It: Poems New and Selected


Crepe de Chine

I went to a poetry workshop online, and this was one of the poems discussed, by the incomparable Mark Doty.  You have it now, even though you didn’t go to the workshop! Sorry to be late with it…but this virus seems to eat time!

Crepe de Chine

These drugstore windows
—one frame in the mile-long film
of lit-up trash and nothing

fronting the avenue, what Balzac called
“the great poem of display”—
are a tableau of huge bottles

of perfume, unbuyable gallons of scent
for women enormous as the movie screens
of my childhood. Spiritual pharmaceuticals

in their deco bottles,
wide-shouldered, flared,
arrayed in their pastel skylines,

their chrome-topped tiers:
a little Manhattan of tinted alcohols.
Only reading their names

—Mme. Rochas, White Shoulders, Crepe de Chine—
and I’m hearing the suss of immense stockings,
whispery static of chiffon stoles

on powdered shoulders,
click of compacts, lisp and soft glide
of blush. And I’m thinking of my wig,
Continue reading “Crepe de Chine”

A poet I thought I didn’t much care for

A couple of years ago, I heard Anne Carson read at Stanford. I didn’t enjoy the reading or Autobiography of Red, and then never read anything else. But I came across this poem, which I like very much. I guess I’ll have to dig more deeply.

God’s Justice

In the beginning there were days set aside for various tasks.
On the day He was to create justice
God got involved in making a dragonfly

and lost track of time.
It was about two inches long
with turquoise dots all down its back like Lauren Bacall.

God watched it bend its tiny wire elbows
as it set about cleaning the transparent case of its head.
The eye globes mounted on the case

rotated this way and that
as it polished every angle.
Inside the case

which was glassy black like the windows of a downtown bank
God could see the machinery humming
and He watched the hum

travel all the way down turquoise dots
to the end of the tail and breathe off as light.
Its black wings vibrated in and out.

Anne Carson
from Glass, Irony and God (New Directions, 1995)



Because of the way this word is often used, as if it is a duty or in some very smarmy context, I rarely use it. But the poet Ross Gay has managed to integrate this into his daily life in a conscious and engaging way.  Here is one of his odes:

Ode to buttoning and unbuttoning my shirt

No one knew or at least I didn’t know
they knew
what the thin disks threaded hereon my shirt
might give me
in terms of joy
this is not something to be taken lightly the gift
of buttoning one’s shirt
top to bottom
or bottom
to top or sometimes
the buttons
will be on the other
side and
I am a woman
that morning
slipping the glass
through its slot
I tread
differently that day
or some of it
my conversations
are different
and the car bomb slicing the air
and the people in it
for a quarter mile
and the honeybee’s
legs furred with pollen
mean another
thing to me
than on the other days
which too have
been drizzled in this simplest of joys
in this world
of spaceships and subatomic this and that
two maybe three
times a day
some days
I have the distinct pleasure of slowly untethering
the one side
from the other

Continue reading “Gratitude”