Wednesday, May 31, 2006


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,
something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Billy Collins

The above favorite of mine I ran across again yesterday in a new anthology of poems (100 essential modern poems / selected by Joseph Parisi. ) While at times it seems as if there are more anthologies than poems I still love seeing who and what is collected by whom ( kind of ugly there but you get my drift). I think Parisi does a nice job in this volume sticking with standards but not always selecting the obvious and the author intros are appropriately concise but sold although I wish he would include reasoning behind selection of the specific poem over others.
I was looking over the discard shelf and on it there were a lot of classroom copies of paperbacks from discarded in bulk. I grabbed copies of Candide, Main Street, Democracy in America and a few others I can't recall (see above poem). The one that is, in the words of Emily, currently making me feel as if the top of my head is being taken off, is The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I am in awe of her prose. I started reading it yesterday while browsing and then after finishing up a Le Carre intrigue, was eager to return to it have not put it down for very long since. She has, in her own words a "...truth in timbre."


scruffylooking said...

Don't get me started on Toni Morrison. I've read everything she has ever written...except Jazz. I started that and then went into labor with Ale' and never finished it. Maybe I'll pick it up again.

Dexter said...

I think Song of Solomon would be my next choice... I started to read Beloved a while but abandoned it for some reason probably Wonder Woman porno sites.

scruffylooking said...

Song of Solomon is amazing...and so are the Wonder Woman porn sites. Does that Wonder Woman fixation hold true for all men, or just my friend G.?

Dexter said...

I would say in my case it was more Lynda Carter than Wonder Woman. I would have to think about actually comic book women as the recent onslaught of films has distorted by memory. But I do recall one of Spiderman's ally/foes, the Black Cat, she was hot.

scruffylooking said...

he also meant Lynda Carter. He still thinks she's hot even though she's 80 or 90 years old now.