Thursday, August 23, 2007

Phantom Limb Press

I forgot to tell you Simic was reading last night. Sorry. He read, it happened.

I used to know 10-15 Shakespeare sonnets by heart (7th grade, braces still on, English class, a crush on a boy named Judd). Now I only know this one:

When I do count the clock that tells the time
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night
When I behold the violet past prime
And sable curls, all silver'd o'er with white
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard
Then of thy beauty do I question make
That thou among the wastes of time must go
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow

And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence

***

Shakespeare is telling all ya'll to have a litter of kiddies to combat the fear/fact of dying. Sounds like a plan. Sadly, though, I really don't think I know any others all the way through. I would like to know more of Spicer's poems by heart, particularly the King of the Forest poem. That kills me everytime. That poem could take me home at the end of the night.

I do love this Spicer poem, though. It's one of the saddest poems:


The dancing ape is whirling round the beds
Of all the coupled animals; they, sleeping there
In warmth of sex, observe his fur and fuss
And feel the terror in his gait of loneliness.
Quaint though the dancer is, his furry fists
Are locked like lightning over all their heads.
His legs are thrashing out in discontent
As if they were the lightning's strict embodiment.
But let the dancing stop, the apish face go shut in sleep,
The hands unclench, the trembling legs go loose—
And let some curious animal bend and touch that face
With nuzzling mouth, would not the storm break
And that ape kiss?

That other people notice the terror in his gate of lonelines. That his fists are locked. That the ape is so afraid of being alone that he keeps himself all tight and wandering, afraid to stop moving because the loneliness will catch up to him. And that, no matter how angry or closed off he may look, if caught in one instance of vulnerability in which someone steps forward to show him the affection seen in the coupled animals around him- he would take it. That my friends, is a good poem.

***

When I was on the subway this morning I had a distinct sensation across my chest that I was missing a seatbelt. Like when I was in high school and wore a backpack for way too long so that by the time I took it off, I felt too light, ungrounded. That something was missing no matter how un-vital or unnatural it actually is. Phantom rucksack. Phantom statue. Phantom pear. A shadow casting itself into the robe I wear.

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