The other day I found an old notebook — the 6×9 spiral-bound steno kind, green-tinted and Gregg ruled. All but a few pages had been summarily ripped out—cleanly, of course, with no paper detritus clogging up the spiral—so I was curious to see what made it worth saving.
On the first page, I’d scribbled down a William Carlos Williams poem.
There were the roses, in the rain.
Don’t cut them, I pleaded. They won’t last, she said.
But they’re so beautiful where they are.
Agh, we were all beautiful once, she said
and cut them and gave them to me in my hand.
I read lots of magazines nowadays. Not so many books … and almost no poetry. I’ve held on to the anthologies that were required reading while I was an English lit major, but haven’t often revisited the pages or sought out new/different work. Which is a shame, because my favorite pieces pack a wallop despite their brevity.
You fit into me
like a hook into an eye
a fish hook
an open eye
In just 16 words, Margaret Atwood conjures the vision of a perfectly matched couple—and shreds it by clarifying her terms.
I bookmarked “You Fit Into Me” during my breakup with Trainer Brian, alongside other acidic pieces like “Mock Orange” by Louise Glück.
“We were made fools of.
And the scent of mock orange
drifts through the window.
How can I rest?
How can I be content
when there is still
that odor in the world?”
But poetry is just as effective and enjoyable during happier scenarios. Back in the 6th century BC, the Greek lyric poet Ibycus described that moment when you see someone you’re smitten by:
I swear his mere approach makes me tremble
like an old champion chariot horse, as he
draws a swift cart unwillingly to the race.
I held on to that steno notebook, which has inspired me to figure out a method for compiling and collecting my favorite poems in one place—and likely in print, not just online. For now, I’m headed to Changing Hands Bookstore to find something new to enjoy.
|WHAT SAM WORE: 7/12/15|
|The shirt: V-neck T-shirt from Uniqlo, New York.|
|The shorts: It looks like camo print, but it’s actually clouds and birds!
Above-the-knee cotton shorts by Michael Bastian, from Uniqlo.
|The shoes: L.A. Runner sneakers by Adidas, from Sports Authority.|