Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Stars At Night Are Big And Bright

I have lived in Houston, TX for 16 Days. My first class (French for Non-Majors) is Tuesday morning, and I'm teaching my first class (Freshman Composition) on Tuesday afternoon. I will not describe in detail the panic that the teaching orientation induced in me this week - it was quite terrible & unwieldy, a kind of hysterical embarrassment. Luckily my experienced teacherfriends calmed me down right quick, reminding me why I'm in Houston in the first place. To write write write.

Today at the washateria I started reading "Quiver of Arrows," the selected poems of Carl Phillips. I have to tell you - my brain cracked & sang in the same way it did when I first was introduced to the work of Lynda Hull; not just the brain, the blood, but not just. It was recognition, intuition,muscular, song, tremble of the faculties -oh, jesus, Carl Phillips, how has it taken me so long to come to you? To such precision: this :

Alba: Failure

If the bare trees at the glass were kings
really, I would know they bend over in grief,
mourning their lost brilliant crowns that

they can only watch, not reach as, beneath them,
they let go of all color all flash all sway,
it would be better, I wouldn't have to say no

they are not kings, they are trees, I know this,
and if they bend it is wind only, it is nature,
isn't it also indifference?
Passing yesterday

the bodies that, wrapped and wrapped, lay
sprawled about the steam as it left the vents
of my city, I could only fumble for the words

(dead lamb, dead lamb) to some song to sing
parts of, I gave, but what I gave--is it
right to say it helped no one, or can I say

I brought lullaby, sealed a thin life,
awhile longer, in sleep? What is failure?
Having read how there were such things as

orchard lamps for keeping the good fruit, on
colder nights, from freezing, I was curious
for that kind of heat
go the lines from

a poem I never finished. The shorter version
is: once, twice, in a difficult time, I have
failed you. No poetry corrects this. But

does it mean we don't love? In the last poem
of you waking, I am any small bird, unnoticed,
above, watching; you are the traveler who

can't know (there is fog, or no stars, a steep
dark) that the all but given up for impossible
next town is soon, soon. Come. We turn here.

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