Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Someone asked me the other day if I still write poetry. I do. But what I said sounded so darn amateur. I said, "I do, but it's more just for myself these days." Now, I've heard a lot of people say this. Why should it bother me? Who do I think I am?
I've begun to think of my memoir as publishable, which is a good thing. But I've also begun to think of my poetry as private. What I'm realizing as I write this is that for some people there is a public life and a private life and the two do not mix. And for others (and I think I may be one of these) there is just the one life you are leading one day at a time trusting that what you put out into the world might touch somebody else, that somebody out there might say-- "I felt just like that too!" And you can take some satisfaction in that. Because you are an artist and that is what you do. You are not your art. Your art is something you create; you build connections, like bridges, that are not just for you, but for everyone. And so with that, here is a poem:
PARK THE CAR IN HARVARD YARD
I love the way you move your mouth. I have a thing
about the way people move their mouths. It's very specific--
the shapes each mouth makes.
You'll see what I mean if you listen to someone
and then try to make your lips match their lips.
President Obama, for example,
very interesting bottom lip.
But I like your mouth even when it isn't moving.
Especially when it isn't moving. The way you hold it,
like there is a key inside. Your mouth is like a hexagon-shaped box
on Christmas morning. What the hell is in THAT box?
It might just be a pair of socks in a hexagon shaped box,
but I bet its something wonderful. I bet it's something
like a dragon. I want to stick my fingers in there and pop it open.
I wonder if it tastes like it smells, all clean and slippery and nutmeg.
This started off PG enough, but when it comes to your mouth
I can't promise I'll be polite. I might be tempted
to knock a tooth out just to taste your blood.
Wow, now I'm getting violent. I don't want to hurt you,
but don't think I haven't noticed how you are always hurting yourself:
There's your mouth twisting around the word Chiropractor.
There's your mouth like a hot circle of glass.
But really you weren't even talking to me.
And then when you do, you say my name
and I see how you have to open your mouth wide to say it.
And I like that.
I like that very much.