Poetry Matters

Yes, this blog really is about poetry...sometimes. When not about wanderings & scotch.

A reminder that for those interested in Elizabeth Bishop, the Writer's Center is hosting a staged reading of her correspondence with The New Yorker on Sunday, March 20, at 2 PM. This is a free event featuring the fabulous poets David Gewanter, Rose Solari, and Dana Gioia; I'll be playing Miss Bishop.

Bryant Park has updated its "BryantParkNYC" playlist on the free media site Broadcastr, and part of their new programming includes recordings from last summer's Word for Word reading series. The three readers they feature are James Tate, Patricia Smith, and...me. Quick, hear it before they change their minds. Just go to Broadcastr and search for my name or, to enjoy the whole set, "BryantParkNYC." The latter will also pull up Matthew Broderick narrating the different parts of the park--the carousel, the chess tables, the grill. (The reason for the overlap becomes clear in the "Guard Kiosk" section, when Broderick talks poetry.) Sweet sweet Ferris Bueller, all grown up. 

One of my weekend commitments is to do a little house cleaning, which means sifting through a huge back-catalogue of unread literary journals. I came across this poem in an old Gettysburg Review, and it blew me away. I love the pacing of it, the quiet revelations and detonations. I want to write poems like this. 


In Monet's Water Lilies,
willows dissolve into
flowers dissolve into water,
and form becomes a dream
in purples and blues
without scent or story.
Consider the death of boundaries,
the way sight dissolves
the moment just before sleep
overtakes us. The way
a man can disappear
inside a woman. I remember
a day of ruffling waters
when we sailed west
in your creaky boat.
We steered for the horizon--
the penciled-in line between
ocean and sky, then watched
as it receded ahead of us.
The night my mother died
there were cells in her body
that didn't notice. For a while
the moons of her nails kept rising,
the hair kept growing from the apex
of her widow's peak.
Now by a barbed-wire fence
that divides two countries,
the invisible roots of an old tree
spread their living network
underground, in all directions.