“We have surrounded ourselves with things that perish”

The to-read stack currently includes the July/August issue of Star*Line and Carolyn Miller’s Light, Moving. The Star*Line has Duane Ackerson’s “The Bermuda Triangle,” which had me grinning with glee both because of the conceit (“…Having sucked nourishment from WWII aircraft / down to the bones, / it leaves the warm waters of the Gulf…”) and because I’m a sucker for allusions to Galileo’s E puor si muove, which, yes, here, perfect. It’s going on my Rhysling short-list.

The Miller: the subject line’s from her poem “Christmas Day” (and isn’t that a choice juxtaposition? – as is the line “the bitter perfume of the Christmas tree”) (for the non-carolers reading this: the third king sings about the Crucifixion as he offers myrrh to the newborn Christ). There’s another poem titled “To Dr. Williams” that opens with

This is just to say
I never understood
why the plums were in

the icebox. Although
I like to think
of biting into chilled…

The poem I lingered over today was “Note to the New World,” which is making me want to reread Alison Luterman‘s “Morning in the Mission: Grandpop Comes to Visit” (my copy of The Largest Possible Life is at home, where I am not) – both poems are set in San Francisco’s Mission District; both celebrate the vibrant beauty of this here world in tandem with memories of a beloved man who “would have loved the day, filled as it was / with the fumes of poppies, smells of Mexican food…”

I have also been listening a lot to the first two songs on an EP by a Brooklyn group called The Paper Raincoat (Alex Wong was in Nashville last month as the drummer in the Vienna Teng Trio – a terrific show I happened to catch with Joanne). Both songs (“Sympathetic Vibrations” and “Brooklyn Blurs”) are on the group’s MySpace jukebox; musical goodness aside (I really like the bridge in “Vibrations,” there’s a goofy quote from “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” in the mix, and some brilliant arranging in “Blurs”), the lyrics are spot-on. And they’re relevant to this post because they share with Miller and Luterman that sense of being ambushed by the beauty of everyday life.

…Which is my core sensibility as well, although it has just occurred to me that that shows up much more in my letters than in my poems. Must reflect on that some other time. For now, I’m also haunted by “Brooklyn Blurs”‘s refrain of “… I can’t believe that I’m still standing here / I am a ghost to everyone I know.” (And as much as I know that that isn’t remotely true in the slightest, at the moment I can’t let go of how true it feels. Which means I’m due for a long swim, a bottle of Gewurtztraminer, and a full night of self-medicating word-slamming.)