Thursday, September 25, 2008

Give me words, for words are my meat.

I have fallen out of the habit of writing poetry. I've written a lot of them in my life ... for a while, it was my chosen method of communicating thoughts to paper ... but maybe writing for a living has slowed me down some. I'm not proud of the fact it has slowed to a near-stop, either, but facts is facts. I am still really pretty happy to come across the good ones, though. They sneak up on me when I'm not looking for them and, well, it's like running into the brother or uncle I never knew I had. They're so familiar in how they look and their mannerisms seem not unlike my own. I want to say out loud, "Oh! So, that's where you've been all this time, eh?" Phrases excite and thrill and I chew on beautiful, beautiful language as slowly as I can get away with.

I'm not sure a perfect poem exists, though you can quote your passages of Yeats and Dickinson and prolly come pretty close. I've been holding onto this one since it fell in my lap in April of this year. I rediscover it every time I read it. It comes close to some kind of greatness, it does. What's more, this is some of that new stuff! Who says all the classics were written in a time already gone by?

Oh, it happens to deal with love, too, but try to look past that, eh? Sometimes love poems go above and beyond being simple "love poems," if you ketch my drift.

After the Movie
by Marie Howe

My friend Michael and I are walking home arguing about the movie.
He says that he believes a person can love someone
and still be able to murder that person.

I say, No, that's not love. That's attachment.
Michael says, No, that's love. You can love someone, then come
to a day

when you're forced to think "it's him or me"
think "me" and kill him.

I say, Then it's not love anymore.
Michael says, It was love up to then though.

I say, Maybe we mean different things by the same word.
Michael says, Humans are complicated: love can exist
even in the murderous heart.

I say that what he might mean by love is desire.
Love is not a feeling, I say. And Michael says, Then what
is it?

We're walking along West 16th Street—a clear unclouded
night—and I hear my voice
repeating what I used to say to my husband: Love is action,
I used to say to him.

Simone Weil says that when you really love you are able to
look at someone you want to eat and not eat them.

Janis Joplin says, take another little piece of my heart now baby.

Meister Eckhardt says that as long as we love images we are
doomed to live in purgatory.

Michael and I stand on the corner of 6th Avenue saying goodnight.
I can't drink enough of the tangerine spritzer I've just

again and again I bring the cold can to my mouth and suck
the stuff from
the hole the flip top made.

What are you doing tomorrow? Michael says.
But what I think he's saying is "You are too strict. You
are a nun."

Then I think, Do I love Michael enough to allow him to think
these things of me even if he's not thinking them?

Above Manhattan, the moon wanes, and the sky turns clearer
and colder.
Although the days, after the solstice, have started to lengthen,

we both know the winter has only begun.


Sara said...

Simone Weil says that when you really love you are able to
look at someone you want to eat and not eat them.

I always want to eat my children. Always. I totally get that.

ram said...

Another reason to be at the Urban Lounge Oct 4th: the poetic Lyric of David Berman. I shall act as you have, Dainon, and post words to be shared. Writeen by a tired cowboy of an uncle who sings like he has a stuffy nose.

Mellie said...

I like it. I think I need to read it a million more times to really "get" it though.

Sherpa said...

Uh wow. Either I echo you, you echo me, or we echo each other. I get this post, and thanks for that poem. I've been feeling a lot of the same feelings you've expressed here, and the need to write more.

Mellie said...

I just read it again and I think my favorite line is "Do I love Michael enough to allow him to think these things of me even if he's not thinking them?" Love it.

And, this poem helped me totally reinterpret Janis Joplin's song.

frog said...

I had to read this several times myself. It's good and I like knowing other people have questions about these things.

Lizbot said...

I used to write a lot of poetry. I have fallen out of the habit, too. I used to write more, in general. Tell me, how do I break this written silence? Just do it?

Dainon. said...

That appears to be the general idea. Don't give into writer's block. It's a bit of a facade, anyway. Just write until the good stuff comes out.