“How many faces, how many bodies can recognize with your eyes closed, only by touching them? Have you ever closed your eyes and acted unconsciously? Or loved someone so blindly, you could almost feel their energy in a dark room and be moved by the powerful touch of their ideas?”–Jean Baudrillard, Journal, 1981
By a happy fluke of scheduling, I am not working today. Good thing, too, because nothing liquifies the gray matter like illness. Feelin’ pretty brain-dead today. When regaining my strength I sometimes like to clean things, so I’m halfway through my third sink full of dishes, there’s laundry to be folded, some of the bathroom has been cleaned, and half the floor is swept. My industrious helpers, busy Cinderellas, are napping, though, and I’d like to go to bed early tonight, so here I poem.
Shall I set the scene, since today’s not bringing me any kind of contemplation of the nature of the universe? I have tea. It is snowing. Butter, the best band, is playing. On a trip to the woodshed just now, I stopped for a few minutes to listen to the creek. A neighbor is hammering. I wonder what he is building. All that is missing is a blackbird. I think of the Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” a lot. Perhaps too much. “It was evening all afternoon. / It was snowing, / and it was going to snow. / The blackbird sat / in the cedar limbs.
Evening all afternoon sounds about right.
Going through today’s minute moments I’ve been thinking about love poems. Yesterday, puking, today, Love. What makes a great love poem? The answer to that must surely be a great love. But great love poems aren’t just about great love, but also about singular moments of great love. Walt Whitman’s “A Glimpse”, for instance describes a sheltering moment between two lovers in a crowded bar:
“A glimpse through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room around the stove late of a winter night, and I unremark’d seated in a corner,
Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently approaching and seating himself near, that he may hold me by the hand,
A long while amid the noises of coming and going, of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.”
It’s these moments I’m channelling today, these minutes where I’m washing dishes and I think of something to tell husbandpants later, or when our kids do hilarious things and we are all suddenly connected with some mystic silk for a minute. I’m not explaining it right, but Amy Lowell pretty well trapped it with “A Lover”: “If I could catch the green lantern / of the firefly / I could see to write you a letter”.
I don’t think it’s the idea of love that makes good love poems, but the ability to listen to the small moments of great love. And then to speak them. So, I guess I’m going to try a love poem today. And if it’s no good, I still have like, eleven months of poems to get it right.
I wish it would snow for the next long night, or a couple of weeks, or just continually for however long it would take to blanket that old field so we could stand
on it when the moon is full next.
Everything will be blue except the smoke from our chimney, which will be lavender.
We will kiss and everything will be so shiny.
The thought is all that’s keeping these crackerbones calling for winter. If I can’t make out with you, in that snowy field, in the moonlight,
then fuck it, bring on the season of mud.
Today I’m listening to these little minutes of great love, when I pick up your shoes from the back room where I removed them from your feet on a weekend afternoon, fairy people asleep, finally, up stairs,
while we took our love nap down.
These shoes right here take the tasks of the day and turn them from banal to ecstatic.
They’re the same yippee as the jars popping after canning the sauce all day, these fingers of you that reach across our days. When a neighbor begins hammering, I imagine asking you what you think she is building. You
would say something unexpected.
Washing the lunch from the dishes and listening to This American Life, I catch the daydream that we bought a storage container and it was full of pirate treasure,
and the first thing you did was put on the hat.
I won’t mention these things to you, won’t show the cards in my love hand,
but I’ll mention the paintbrushes from the second time you painted my office green, left outside and now they’re frozen.
I’ll forget to tell you about the shoes, and the container fantasy, and the couch will take our legs, and we’ll watch the State of the Union together
laughing at the funny faces of important men,
I won’t tell you about how when I texted love you live you love you, I wasn’t trying to be poetical,
but how true, got it right, smart phone.
LOVE POEMS, BLAGHHHHHHHH. Whiny voice. It is hard to write about happy stuff. What are your favorite love poems? limericks count. Happy Tuesday, poemies.