“Trembling, like Paris, on the brink of an obscure and formidable revolution.”

Victor Hugo

It feels like a competition. I lay between the two of them, sweltering, like Paris in
August. Gene’s lanky six foot four inches hangs off the foot of the bed, Brett’s
dancer-body liquid, compact, is curled into mine, his hard need pressed against my
thigh. I’m not sure how I ended up here, in love with a man who wants me to fuck
his best friend while he watches. Now the three of us crowd in my too-small bed. I
stare at a black and white photo of Montmartre on the ceiling. Brett trembles like
needle to the pole. Van Morrison’s on the radio, having sex in the green grass with
the brown-eyed girl. The ceiling fan rotates counterclockwise, but we’re all
sweating. I should have moved the beds together when my roommate moved out,
but it’s too late, now Gene’s spread my thighs, and pinned his best friend against
the wall, and now he says nothing while Brett watches him slam into me. I need
him to scream I love you! again and again like he did before. But Gene’s eyes are
locked with Brett’s. I see what I’m not meant to see; I am disposable, nothing more
than a deep hole. A hot rain pelts the bedroom window. Gene pours into me like
runoff. His tears look like raindrops on glass. I turn his face so he can see what he
is losing. I want him to watch his best friend as he arches his dancer’s back and
comes in my mouth, his spasms an arabesque. I pull back my hair and dip my head,
trembling, like Paris, on the brink of an obscure and formidable revolution.

Alexis Rhone Fancher 

I used to be a bird

April 4, 2019

As for me, I used to be a bird
with a gentle white womb,
someone cut my throat
     just for laughs,
     I don’t know.
As for me, I used to be a great albatross
and whirled over the seas.
Someone put an end to my journey,
without any charity in the tone of it.
But even stretched out on the ground
I sing for you now
my songs of love.

Alda Merini

Trans. Susan Stewart

(Alda Merini was a prolific Italian poet who abruptly, unexpectedly fell silent for a twenty year period. This poem may refer to that silence)

mark the corrections

April 4, 2019

I know that as time passes, some poems that seemed to me rather perfect cease to, and sometimes, maybe even after twenty years, I see what’s wrong. So I mark the corrections in a copy of the book. In my library is a corner where the books are labelled “Marked Copy” in heavy ink on the covers.

Chard DeNiord

An Interview with Galway Kinnell, American Poetry Review January / February 2011

loved books ravenously

April 4, 2019

Some people love books reverently — my great-aunt, for instance, a librarian and a passionate reader who declined to open any volume beyond a hundred-degree angle, so tenderly did she treat their spines. My father, by contrast, loved books ravenously. His always had a devoured look to them: scribbled on, folded over, cracked down the middle, liberally stained with coffee, Scotch, pistachio dust, and bits of the brightly coloured shells of peanut M&M’s. (I have inherited his pragmatic attitude toward books and deliberately break the spine of every paperback I start, because I like to fold them in half while reading them.) In addition to the Stack, my father typically had on his bedside table the five or six books he was currently reading—a novel or two, a few works of nonfiction, a volume of poetry, “Comprehensive Russian Grammar” or some other textbooky thing — and when he finished one of these he would toss it into the space between the dresser and the wall. Compression and accumulation — especially accumulation — did the rest.

Kathryn Schultz

My Father’s stack of books

The New Yorker 25th March 2019

I am in the path of Blake, but so far behind him that only the wings on his heels are in sight. I have been writing since I was a very little boy, and have always been struggling with the same things, with the idea of poetry as a thing entirely removed from such accomplishments as ‘word-painting,’ and the setting down of delicate but usual emotions in a few, well-chosen words. There must be no compromise; there is always only the one right word: use it, despite its foul or merely ludicrous associations; I used ‘double-crossed’ because it was what I meant. It is part of a poet’s job to take a debauched and prostituted word, like the beautiful word, ‘blond,’ and to smooth away the lines of its dissipation, and to put it on the market again, fresh and virgin. Neuburg blabs of some unsectarian region in the clouds where poetry reaches its highest level. He ruins the truth of that by saying that the artist must, of necessity, preach socialism. There is no necessity for the artist to do anything. There is no necessity. He is a law unto himself, and his greatness or smallness rises or falls by that. He has only one limitation, and that is the widest of all: the limitation of form. Poetry finds its own form; form should never be superimposed; the structure should rise out of the words and the expression of them. I do not want to express only what other people have felt; I want to rip something away and show what they have never seen. Because of the twist in myself I will never be a very good poet: only treading the first waves, putting my hands in deeper and then taking them out again.

Dylan Thomas
Letter to Pamela Hansford Johnson 15th October 1933