people for the poetry

I think it was Ray Bradbury who said — in his Zen-like book on writing — that writers of prose should read a bit of poetry every day. I fall in and out of poetry — I go through periods where I read quite a bit of it, and then I don’t touch it again for months or years. I was infatuated with Poemfone for a while. I love the idea of “poetry for the people”, whatever that means, even as I’m reminded of one of my favorite movie lines ever: in the movie CENTER STAGE (a favorite guilty pleasure, I’ve seen it several times) a dancer named Eric complains to another dancer about his innovative choreographer, who has all these ideas “about bringing ballet to the people”. Eric says, “I like ballet because it has nothing to do with the people. Give me tiaras and boys in tights any day.”


I’m reading Jack Gilbert’s REFUSING HEAVEN, and I like this bit here:

“A Brief for the Defense”

…We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

(and this):

“Say You Love Me”

Are the angels of her bed the angels
who come near me alone in mine?
Are the green trees in her window
the color I see in ripe plums?
If she always sees backward
and upside down without knowing it
what chance do we have? I am haunted
by the feeling that she is saying
melting lords of death, avalanches,
rivers and moments of passing through.
And I am replying, “Yes, yes.
Shoes and pudding.”

(and here’s another short one):

“A Close Call”

Dusk and the sea is thus and so. The cat
from two fields away crossing through the grapes.
It is so quiet I can hear the air
in the canebrake. The blond wheat darkens.
The glaze is gone from the bay and the heat lets go.
They have not lit the lamp at the other farm yet
and all at once I feel lonely. What a surprise.
But the air stills, the heat comes back
and I think I am all right again.


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