Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Night Poetry


Let's talk about heartache, Roy,
while the hurrying wind blows against the sign
with the missing R. Let’s stand outside of ‘ite-Aid,
smoking, waiting for the friend who'll drive us

out to where the blackgum trees fade
from the road. A radio’s playing the clown,
you cry for a pretty woman,
mine's a tattooed boy.

Roy, how do we tell each other of the amplified
nights, planes leaving the dusty fields of Texas.
Nothing here but nickels and dimes,

the all-day sleep of nowhere.

Look at this jacket, flung over the chair,
the emptied closet, the open door.
All night I dance alone in a room

of lit amber lamps, ashtrays, warm beer.

Roy, the shades are up. Neighbors look in,
see my arms moving in the air.



Silverfiddle said...

Damn. That's good!

FreeThinke said...

It sounds so "Beat" -- so Kerouakian. Else so "Existential."

Expressive yes. The images are masterfully crafted and presented, but the subject matter is so SO dreary -- so depressing -- so DOWNBEAT.

Why dwell on scenes of decadence and degradation?

Reminds me of the confusion that was the hallmark of my own feckless youth when I was writing things like this:

_________ Gaiety _________

Silently they lie like icebergs
_____ in a black and frozen sea.
Moving endlessly to nowhere
_____ on waves of turmoil
__________ they occasionally touch ––

Only to crash together in rumbling torment
_____ a parody of intimacy ––
__________ to split, shatter and destroy.

And when on rare, divine days
_____ a ray of warmth
__________ penetrates the chill damp
They melt –– grateful –– yielding –– unafraid ––

Only to slip back into the prison
_____ of the black and frozen sea ––

Formless –– and without identity.

~ FreeThinke - 1962

I thank God every day that I grew past reveling in other people's shame, anguish and despair out of a misguided sense of "empathy." The sanguine approach is far more salubrious. - FT

KP said...

I am _so_ impressed.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Thanks for the input, everyone.

As Free Thinke surely knows, poems are not necessarily autobiographical.

When I wrote this, I imagined the poem from the point of view of the speaker, who is not the same as the author. There's a difference.

This isn't a "confessionalist" poem, but rather one I imagined a woman would have written in the circumstance within the poem and with the theme of Orbison's music running through it.

The poem is wholly fictional, like a novel.

FreeThinke said...

Ms. Shaw,

Your work is very good. Never for a moment did I imagine it to be a confession or self-revelation. Like most people of quality you seem to be "engaged with all mankind" -- hardly self-absorbed. I merely wondered why you would want to identify with such a dismal scene.

Like most young people of the time, in 1962 I felt morally obligated to "identify" with, and "empathize" with people unlike myself. At the same time -- another symptom of the times -- I felt equally compelled to indulge in endless self-abnegation along with rejection and repudiation of the milieu in which I'd been born and raised.

I was fortunate to have known two mentors who were able to get me to see this destructive ethos as an odd form of arrogance and conceit.

By the end of the sixties I had changed greatly. Today, I can hardly recognize the doleful, discontented, fault-finding, despairing individual who wrote the "iceberg" poem.

As a person of the left you might want feel I grew in the wrong direction, but for me this "turning of the mind" has meant salvation.

Thank you for publishing "Gaiety" and the remarks that went with it.

~ FreeThinke

Shaw Kenawe said...

My "mentors" in poetry:

I had the privilege of being in poetry workshops with Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Alan Dugan.

More recently, I attended workshops with American poet Lucie Brock-Broido, whose work just recently appeared in The New Yorker.

I don't always know what subject will interest me for a poem.

The poem about Paul Morphy, which I posted a few weeks ago, was inspired by a lengthy article about him in the New Yorker in the 1990s. Again, that poem was an imagined poem in which the speaker, Paul Morphy, descends into madness.

Many of my poems have to do with my mother, whom I did not know, because I lost her when I was a toddler. Poetry was my way of working through that issue.

Those poems have been published in various anthologies and other small presses.

KP said...

@Shaw and @FT I appreciate knowing the story behind the poems. Just as I do knowing the inspiration behind wonderful music.

I imagine you two have fascinating stories out the kazoo that would interest your readers.