“And since we’ll devote all our years / To making things that disappear”

So, my home phone/internet’s been out of commission since Friday, and there was an airline clusterfuck on Sunday that ended up costing me two cab fares, 50% of my too-late-to-cancel guest-house reservation for yesterday night, and several hours of my life that I don’t get back. Grr, grr, grr.
That said, I was glad to end up with more time to herd a few more things into order… including completing the “Wishes At Time of Death” form my pastor keeps on file, which includes specifying any readings desired. For what it’s worth, I want Raymond Carver’s “Late Fragment” and Jane Hirshfield’s “The Heart’s Counting Knows Only One” either in the program or read aloud. I’m betting there will be an Emily Dickinson in there as well – though how I will collect if the reader in question chooses as expected, I haven’t quite worked out. (Maybe a dram of Edradour poured over my ashes? But that would be a waste of good whisky…)
I also treated myself to a glass of Canton ginger liqueur , a long hot soak in the tub, and some visiting with my poetry books. Of particular note:

  • “Dock Ellis Pitches a No Hitter While on LSD” – in Jilly Dybka’s Trouble and Honey. A fun sonnet.
  • Lights, Camera, Poetry! American Movie Poems, the First Hundred Years, edited by Jason Shinder (Harcourt 1996). A book I’ve browsed through in the bath before, judging from the water damage and dog-ears. What disconcerted me this time was seeing how many people have passed away since the anthology was compiled: Shinder included birth- and death-dates in the table of contents, with the youngest poet (Tom Andrews) born in 1961, and quite a few of the living-at-the-time poets are no longer (including Andrews, as well as Shinder himself). I’m used to encountering this in much older collections (e.g., Pockets and Penguins from before 1960), where it’s unsettling in a more expected way (akin to seeing photographs of older relatives and colleagues when they were teenagers). Seeing it in a book I received as uncorrected page proofs has me in the mood to revisit various laments for makaris and makers (cf. Scanlan (source of today’s subject line); Dunbar; W.S. Merwin (anthologized in The River Sound and Lament for the Makers: A Memorial Anthology; I own the former and am now wishing I’d checked it before I left, because I can almost remember his couplet about Nemerov (“sadder than…”) but not quite). And for any Washington DC folks reading this, there’s a gathering on November 11…)
    Anyhow, I un-dogeared some older favorites, and marked some newly noteworthy to me. Current standouts include:
    • Paul Goodman’s “Documentary Film of Churchill” (“What is it with this race that does not learn? / I am weary for meaning and they tire / my soul with great deeds. Yet I cannot turn / my eyes from the stupid story in despair: / since I have undertaken to be born.”)
    • Michael Warr’s “Die Again Black Hero: Version II (Chicago, March 1990)” (“Predictable. / So same-old-shit predictable. / The Marine whose skin / Matches the surface color / Of an Uzi has to die first. /Even on another planet / This dogma cannot be escaped…”)
    • Thylia Moss’s “Hattie and the Power of Biscuits” (“What a wonder she didn’t use strychinine dough.”)
    From The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel: Second Floor, Michael Meyerhofer’s “Shame as Proof of True Love”:

    …real love, I’ve decided, is when
    you see your lover at their most
    awkward, wretched moments
    and still want to fuck them later.

    There are a couple upcoming deadlines I’ve been working toward, and I’m hopeful about meeting them, albeit not at the expense of time with friends and improving my Hebrew and other being-here-in-the-present priorities. That said, there’s a part of my brain that’s ruthless about testing words with and against each other until they fit just so, and when it’s in gear, there’s no getting any sleep until it’s gotten its due. (In other words, this is why I spent a good chunk of early Monday morning working on two new cinquains instead of sinking back into sleep. At this point, it shouldn’t surprise that me that putting together forty-four syllables = as complicated as shaping water. (Think of fountains. Think of ice. Think of how some faucets gurgle and some whine like tired teakettles. Some poems are downpours that clog up gutters and destroy posters; others strike as lightly as a flutter of drops on a lemon tree. And I seem to be writing a poem in spite of myself, so I’d best wrap this up and pour the rest of my words into something eventually submittable (it’s 1:15 am here, and where I’m staying, the only creatures still awake besides me are a cat in heat and the occasional palmetto bug scuttling across the stones).