Everything about it is a love song. – Paul Simon
You will cross the universal ford to move into your new way of being, you will ask
for clean air, you will ask for night stars, you will ask. And you will walk up
to the rushing waters, the crazy current and you will not once wonder
if you will make it beyond, to the snow village, to the town courtyard,
to the people with the PhDs and old clothes and quiet wonder. You will be
water itself, you will release the birds you’ve been carrying in your corduroy
coat pocket, you will cross. And all those little hints you’ve been leaving yourself,
these jotted notes at dusk, the turquoise rings, the smell of sage, will come together
you have gathered and strung together for enough years that they have become
this rising river in you, they have become a certainty.
The town comes through here.
My wife combs their hair,
adjusts their chins with her fingers,
looking in their eyes with
her steady kindness
and they sit for me, the husbands,
the sisters, the children and
they turn their faces to mine and
something opens in them, something godlike or lovelike opens
and I press the shutter.
The baby grabs her brother’s face, the man looks
just like his wife.
Year after year the town comes through and the baby graduates
from college and the wives soften, fade.
I see them in the diner downstairs or in the hardware
and they always smile and speak but the way they look
at me is not the same as when they are sitting
on the shag rug bench, letting the light
into their eyes, letting my wife
adjust their chin with her fingers,
letting the light love their faces,
letting their faces be light.
Photograph by http://www.derekolsonphotography.com/
Patty Griffin’s singing me up to the mountain as I head to Asheville for the holy days. Ahhhh, beauty.
I am beaming you love from the deepest part of my heart.
Merry everything and everywhere.
P.S. I have just a little more to say to you this morning, and it is this. J’adore Charles Simic. Even the titles of his books of poetry make a poem. Well, and why wouldn’t they? When I first read his poetry, I thought to myself, you can do that? He was my first favorite poet. And then he led me to James Tate. And then the two of them proceeded to roll up the awnings with their squeaky little hand cranks until all I could see was sky. And sky writing formed by the drone of purple airplanes. And heroes and fools jumping from the planes, landing in willow trees and great wide oceans. Dangling there, floating there, listening to their own heartbeats with stethoscopes they wear for decoration.
Oh, and there’s John Ashbery. You know how it goes. Beauty/beauty, love/love.
POETRY OF CHARLES SIMIC
What the Grass Says, Kayak (San Francisco, CA), 1967.
Somewhere among Us a Stone Is Taking Notes, Kayak (San Francisco, CA), 1969.
Dismantling the Silence, Braziller (New York, NY), 1971.
White, New Rivers Press, 1972, revised edition, Logbridge Rhodes (Durango, CO), 1980.
Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk, Braziller (New York, NY), 1974.
Biography and a Lament, Bartholemew’s Cobble (Hartford, CT), 1976.
Charon’s Cosmology, Braziller (New York, NY), 1977.
Brooms: Selected Poems, Edge Press (Christchurch, NZ), 1978.
School for Dark Thoughts, Banyan Press (Pawlet, VT), 1978, sound recording of same title published by Watershed Tapes (Washington, DC), 1978.
Classic Ballroom Dances, Braziller (New York, NY), 1980.
Austerities, Braziller (New York, NY), 1982.
Weather Forecast for Utopia and Vicinity, Station Hill Press (Barrytown, NY), 1983.
Selected Poems, 1963-1983, Braziller (New York, NY), 1985.
Unending Blues, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1986.
Nine Poems, Exact Change (Cambridge, MA), 1989.
The World Doesn’t End, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1989.
The Book of Gods and Devils, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1990.
Hotel Insomnia, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1992.
A Wedding in Hell: Poems, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1994.
Frightening Toys, Faber & Faber (New York, NY), 1995.
Walking the Black Cat: Poems, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1996.
Jackstraws: Poems, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1999, revised edition, Faber & Faber (New York, NY), 2000.
Selected Early Poems, Braziller (New York, NY), 2000.
Night Picnic, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2001.
The Voice at 3:00 a.m.: Selected Late and New Poems, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2003.
Selected Poems: 1963-2003, Faber and Faber (London), 2004.
Aunt Lettuce, I Want to Peek under Your Skirt, Bloomsbury USA (New York, NY), 2005.
My Noiseless Entourage: Poems, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2005.
Monkey Around, 2006.
Sixty Poems, Harvest Books (Washington, PA) 2008.
That Little Something: Poems, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2008.
The Monster Loves His Labyrinth, Ausable Press, second printing (Port Townsend, WA), 2008.
Photo of Charles Simic and his father courtesy of Charles Simic and UNH Magazine.
These short stories are continually luminous to me, and when I read them — or when I breathed them in and out later, after they’d become a part of me — I was so pleased to be in a world where they had appeared. They warm up the place considerably.
The Kool-Aid Wino from Richard Brautigan’s “Trout Fishing in America.”
The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket from Yasunari Kawabata’s “Palm-of-the-Hand Stories”
He’s At the Office by Allan Gurganus
(I met Allan Gurganus once after a reading he gave, and I tried not to gush or smile overly BRIGHTLY but he’d already spotted me in the audience while he was reading so he knew.)
Image courtesy of New York Pie Story,
did we do
before Mad Men,
when we needed to say, oh,
was so very Mad Men,
knowing Joan Hollaway was
gazing over at us with her all
knowing gaze, ready to burst out
at the hilarious
universe with its stream of what must be
which have seemed
Imagine that everywhere you go, there are angels in plain sight. Your waiter, for example.
Here is what happened to me one day several years back when I sat in one of my favorite coffee shops, writing, brainstorming, considering what my next move in life would be. I looked up from my notebook and was suddenly attuned to the waiter, moving across the room in all his glory, as though sent by the universe to illustrate this very idea. Then, the narrator that lives in my head started narrating:
A kind man dressed all in white carries a tray holding a glass of iced tea, a bowl of sliced lemons and a jar of honey, through which the sun shines as he moves across the room to you. While you drink this tea, place your hand on your heart and see if you can feel all the love the world has ever felt for you, coming from your heart to your hand and from your hand to your heart.
Oh, how I wish I had a picture of that waiter! Beyond the beautiful one that lives in my mind.
The luminous writer, Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, aka SARK, speaks of looking for miracles throughout your day. Do this. You are surrounded by thousands of miracles, thousands of angels. Smile back at one of them.
Take Polaroids of your tv screen while Lucas dances, black eyes, black hair, black turtleneck, lanky Lucas, while he dances, no tripod, no vertical hold, no pause, just you leaning sweet into Lucas. Make 1,000 copies on photo glossy, staple gun each glossy to a telephone pole every mile from here to New York City. Arrive breathless.
You may quibble, saying who is this Lucas, I don’t know him? I’ll say does it really matter, you know what I mean by black eyed boy, surely? The kind you slip into a diner with late, as you’re driving, and you’re covered with road? You’re stopping so you can see his hair in any kind of light but star? The kind of man takes you the long way? And you let him?
Photograph of Lucas in “Empire Records.” Prose poem by moi, written back in the days of Polaroids.
I am on the left, in my puffy-sleeved dress
The yellow bird seemed ready to swing from its perch in the painting out into the room. We all sat waiting, watching the bird. Hours went by; the bird had us mesmerized with its colors of vintage 1960s glassware. I’d swear that bird was hovering just above a whirlpool made up of Blenko glass, one of us said. And just behind the paint you do see, we all thought in unison, maybe an old clown painting like the one that was in our family room for so long. And that is definitely a circus tent, or maybe the tent of a faith healer, back on the left and I think I see the tiger’s cage or possibly a portal to another room that seems to be lit through the windows of an old scenic tours bus. Meanwhile the yellow bird seems to be pulsating in and out of this plane, its tail feathers nearly see-through, its wing as thick as a hand. And I think I can discern the pattern to the puffy sleeved dress I made for Home-Ec when I was ten, someone’s sunglasses, a Mexican beach and something over on the right that is so unbearably beautiful, someone from a place I can just barely remember, hanging calmly upside down with her eyes closed reminding me of eighteen glimmering moments from just as many lives.