No. 5 Stanley Kunitz (“Hornworm: Autumn Lamentation”) falls to Gregory Corso (“30th Year Dream”) in the East, 73-70. Corso was anxious and fell behind early, but woke up and went crazy. Kunitz killed his chances with a disgusting image and his last shot: “Who can understand the ways/of the Great Worm in the sky?” fell short. Corso dreams he is handed an address and told “Christ wants to see you,” and ends: “‘Damn/impulsive goon-faced proletariat-Shelley greaseball dopey fuck!/And cried, ‘denied…denied…denied’” Yea! Go Corso!
Sharon Olds has no trouble with her opponent, the 12th seed in the South bracket, Robin Becker, winning 91-72. “A History of Sexual Preferance” by Becker is about a giddy first date in historical Philadlephia and coyly references the ‘pursuit of happiness/pleasure.’ “The Request” by Olds may be one of the greatest love poems of all time, and we quote it in full:
He lay like someone fallen from a high
place, only his eyes could swivel,
he cried out, we could hardly hear him,
we bent low, over him, his
wife and I, inches from his face,
trying to drink sip up breathe in
the sounds from his mouth. He lay with unseeing
open eyes, the fluid stood
in the back of his throat, and the voice was from there,
guttural, through unmoving lips, we could
not understand one word, he was down so
deep inside himself, we went closer, as if
leaning over the side of a well
and putting our heads down inside it.
Once—his wife was across the room, at the
sink—he started to garble some of those
physical unintelligible words,
Raas-ih-AA, rass-ih-AA, I
hovered even lower, over his open
mouth, Rassi baaa, I sank almost
into that body where my life half-began,
I said, and he closed his eyes in his last
yes of exhausted acquiescence, I
said, She’s here. She came over to him,
touched him, spoke to him, and he closed his
eyes and he passed out and never
came up again, now he could move
In the final 5 seed v. 12 seed matchup, over in the West, Stephanie Brown looked to upset James Schuyler with her “Interview with an Alchemist in the New Age” which begins
Someone, if you pay the price, can hypnotize you
and you can speak, from memory, oh so long ago imbedded in your soul,
about the past, and history, and your place in it, how you struggled
in the heat and the dust near the Great Pyramid of Giza,
how you gazed into the mirror of your beloved,
how you took a bow with your fellow thespians, in Greece,
how a sycophant betrayed you in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles
And wouldn’t it be neat, she says. The poem (one can see the chatty tone in the quotation above) doesn’t really say more than that, unless there’s some deep, ironic point I’m missing. Go to the rim, Stephanie! Make sharper passes! (She fell behind early.)
Schuyler’s APR entry pulverizes a life into a candy roll and lays it out before us; a sample from “Red Brick and Brown Stone” :
He arises. Oriane
the lurcher wants
her walk. Out into
the freeze. Oriane
pees and shits…
…Off by cab to
racquet club: naked,
the pool, plunge, how
Many laps? Home. (Through
out the day, numerous
cigarettes. I forget
which brand. Tareytons.)
A pencil drawing of
a vase of parrot tulips.
Mario! Mario!” “I
lived for art, I
lived for love.” Sup
per: a can of baked
beans, a cup of raspberry
yogurt. Perrier. Out?
A flick? An A.A.
meeting? Walk Oriane.
Nine p.m. Bed. A
book, V.Woolf’s let-
ters. Lights out, sleep
not quite right away.
No valium. The night
passes in black chiffon.
Shhhhh. G’nite, James. Sleep well. You’ve advanced to the next round, beating the charming librarian from California, Stephanie Brown 71-64. Well played!