We all quit dancing / To look.
It seems I must have gone into a tailspin brought on in part from madness already there, compounded with much that came on by the minute, and found myself on top of a high curb that felt to me like a bridge or a cliff edge on which I rocked and then quite literally emptied myself like a chamberpot into l’Abîme. At the time I was, in fact, speaking quite good French, about any number of things that came to mind though I was an audience of one, and at that one nutjob, who was alone in knowing what the hell he was talking about for Christ’s sake, and since nobody was there to ask me that, I wasn’t very likely to ask myself; and therefore didn’t, but instead just stood there muttering about la poésie de l’hivernage, in a guttural mumble like a corner-boy giving out upon la pluie, la neige, même quelque catastrophe diluvienne, or equally likely Professeur Michaud pacing around in his brown plaid double-breasted suit, from the crinkly left cuff of …
THE POLITICAL ISSUE Heather McHugh dreams of a Texas songbird Robert Pinsky visits the National Portrait Gallery Jane Hirshfield considers Augusto Pinochet Kevin Young gets the Hang Dog Blues Mary Jo Salter says “My pen is angled too” Plus: Stephen Dunn, James Longenbach, Brenda Hillman, Norman Dubie, John Koethe, & Eleanor Wilner. And, in translation: Tomas Transtromer, Mahmoud Darwish, & Paul Celan.
This month we’re featuring Rebecca Starks’ “Gray Matter,” published in Poetry Northest Spring-Summer v3.n1, The Political Issue. According to Starks, “The poem’s impulse came from its two central images—I saw the tortoise while running in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and the cement mixer as I emerged from the subway in Times Square, on my way to work in the rain. A mushroom rain, in Russian, refers to a light rain that falls while the sun is shining, a rain favorable to mushroom growth; at the same time, the word ‘mushroom’ captures for me the feeling of walking in wet shoes, in a rush; and from rain to cloud is a short step.
From the Spring-Summer v3.n1 issue of Poetry Northwest, “The Political Issue,” we’re featuring Mary Jo Salter’s “Song of the Children.” According to Salter, “‘Song of the Children’ is one of the few poems I’ve written that was ever, in any sense, commissioned. A French friend was helping to put together an international anthology of poems about war, and asked me to try to write one. I saw I had been censoring myself: I had wanted, in some way, to write about the Iraq war, but had held off simply because I had no clue how to do it. The poem—which is partly about not knowing how to speak or write adequately about violence—got written, but the anthology was never published. I was fortunate that Poetry Northwest was interested in my attempt.