So I’m here with Marla Muse, once again, as we are about to begin play that will bring us closer to crowning a Best American Poetry Champion in 2010.

Marla, could it be a Canadian?

It could.  Magaret Atwood’s poem from Richard Howard’s 1995 volume, “Bored.”  Atwood broke Franz Wright’s heart in triple-overtime in Sweet Sixteen.  We won’t soon forget that one!

No, we won’t.   Atwood goes against William Kulik in the North final.

What does Billy Collins have to do to advance against Stephen Dunn?  Dunn, if you remember won his game in the last second against Robert Pinsky.  Meanwhile, Collins rolled over Harry Mathews with a swarming defense as “Composed Over Three Miles From Tintern Abbey” proved too much for “Histoire” to handle.

Tom, I think Billy has to get it to Wordsworth.  That’s the guy who has taken him this far. And the lambs have to bound, Tom, the lambs really have to bound.

They’ve been bounding and bounding well.  How about the two American women left in the tournament…not well known…but they’re very tough…

They are…Reb Livingston in the South final will be facing Bernard Welt…who is nervous, we’ve already seen that…and Janet Bowdan will be defending her chance to go to the Final Four in the West against Lewis “Buzz” Buzbee, who, in contrast to Welt, seems very relaxed.

Tarzan has brought his hammock to the West bracket final…

And Jane and Cheetah, of course…

Bowdan’s poem is lovely, isn’t it?

Yes, Tom, Bowdan’s poem is from Rita Dove’s 2000 volume.   Bowdan could go all the way.

We can feel the tension in the air here as the poets and publishers pour into the arena for these four contests.  I’ve never felt such excitement, really, since Athens, and those playwrighting contests, when I was just a young girl…

Marla Muse, you don’t look a day over 2,000!

Thanks, Tom!


  1. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Tom, Marla here, got some more William “Wild Bill” Kulik here, posted earlier on Scarriet but good enough for putting up again methinks. And for all you hardcore Kulikans out there, the American Poetry Review (APR) is slated to put out some more of his stuff in the May/June 2010 issue, on sale on 1 May at the APR website. Did this guy translate Max Jacob, Tom? It’s gotta be him, how many William Kuliks can there be in the poetry game? Keep up the good work, Bill, we love ya!

    Old House Blues

    William Kulik

    for Alex P.

    Everyone’s here, and because I love old things, I’ve rented a grand Victo-
    rian in a part of town devoted to preservation, where even a splendid place
    such as this one—broad corridors and stairwells, dark, narrow arteries lead-
    ing from room to room, each with its own period architectural marvels—is
    common. After a welcoming dinner, we walk the halls: floor polish, cedar,
    sachet—wonderful old odors—toward the evening’s entertainment. On our
    way, we stop to admire each room’s unique details. In the study, tales of
    Dionysius and his cohort molded on plaster cornices, Pan and Syrinx in a
    bedroom, garlanded by wreaths and berries and, on the drawing-room ceil-
    ing, the feature attraction: an oval painting of Echo and Narcissus. In each
    room walnut floors, cherry baseboards, carved oak mantels, all glowing with
    the magic of lost arts, of artisans long-gone. I order the house lights turned
    up to make everything clear, but am told it isn’t possible: soon the show will
    begin. That’s odd, I think, shivering as we arrive at the end of the house—
    doesn’t the power reach this far? I open the door to the final wing: panic
    seizes me. Floors sag, lath shows through the fallen plaster. This’ll take
    some work, I think, my spirits high as I recall the fortresses I’d made out of
    other houses that were vulnerable to roving gangs. But the jumble of wires
    on the floor, guitars and amps everywhere, make it clear my son and his
    friends have taken over. I try to persuade him to return to his room in the
    main body til I can get things back to normal, but he’s adamant. “You’re too
    serious, pops,” he says. “Besides, the play’s the thing.” Seeing the empty bot-
    tles, the piles of crumpled Mickey D. and Cheese Doodle wrappers, I feel
    the panic again. Suddenly the lights blink three times, then go out. From a
    darkened, corner, stage right, a woman giggles. “The metaphor’s trite,” she
    says. The audience titters. Smiling into the darkness behind her, I pat the
    lease in my breast pocket. “Try again, Kafka!” she shouts. This time the
    laughter is loud. A few hoots. Twisting the top off a bottle of beer and pop-
    ping a bag of chips, I wonder if something’s over. “You bet it is, Big Daddy!”
    she calls out for a third time. Taking my cue, I step forward, bow, then turn
    and walk toward the curtains. Applause is general, but there are no en-
    cores: just the old odors—floor polish, cedar, sachet—and a single rose.

  2. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Tom, Lewis “The Buzz” Buzbee shows there is life after Tarzan. Work it, Lewis!

    Sea Bed

    Lewis Buzbee

    there is water at the bottom of the ocean
    – Talking Heads

    On the surface of the storm-torn sea giant ships
    toss about like yellow boats in a bathtub.
    Waves, tall and steep as the Matterhorn,
    crash and cleave the enormous steel hulls of industry,
    and sailors, screaming, die in the tumult and drown.
    When the bloodless corpses sink below the roil, the teeming
    ceases and all is calm, quiet as a California evening.
    Down the blue hushed fathoms of ocean the sailors’
    violated bodies cradle and rock, falling like leaves
    of a Japanese plum – sweet, serene in the death of autumn.
    And that is where I live, in a shell house
    on the moonscape ocean bottom, tucked safe
    in my sea bed, counting the soft rain of dead sailors.

    When did we move here? I can’t remember; the water’s
    always been our home – such ease and calm.
    The sea grasses wave hello, goodbye, ceaseless
    in the blue-green and chill ripples; we mow the sea grass
    once every seven years with our coral scythes. Piperfish
    swim in and out of our shell house door, kiss our puckered
    flesh and swallow the parasites who live there. School
    of dolphin coast past the window, laughing mouths. Eel,
    squid, octopus – an abundance of food. Days (hardly
    decipherable from night) I stay in the house alone and
    play with the dogfish, I talk to the dogfish, only
    she can hear me; we invent stories of the land
    Sea night falls in minutes, stirring of electric eels.

    The sea mother floats in the kitchen;
    the sea father floats in his chair. We eat the lush crab
    in the lights of the blue fire. The sea mother knits kelp
    blankets, drifts off, nods away. The sea father drinks
    from a bottle, drinking underwater a trick he learned in the navy before we
    came here. He drinks from the bottle
    and floats out of the shell house, buoyed. Eight bells
    and all is calm. I paddle down the sea hall, dogfish
    at my heels, and fall to my sea bed, pull the otter pelts
    close to my chin and count through the open window
    the falling leaves – the sailors, the cannons, the ships
    of the tumultuous air world. Eight bells; all is well.
    We are the only five-fathom family; we’ve pearls for eyes.

  3. Danteday said,

    March 30, 2010 at 4:37 am

    You just put this same poem up on W.F.Kammann’s “Ich Weiss NIcht” yesterday, and there were complaints.

    Did you put it up on two threads at once to be sure everyone realized March Madness is what Scarriet’s about?

    Take it down to prove that statement wrong.

    Also apologize to Lewis Buzbee for involving his fine poem in your games. Some poets would be insulted beyond belief if you put up one of their best poems in your frat-house food-fight. Sure, lasagna will probably win over haggis when you hurl it, but some people would die for the latter, and the weather to go with it.

  4. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Tom, Marla reporting from down on the floor, I know you love this one. They don’t call them the Elite Eight for nothing!

    What They Wanted

    Stephen Dunn

    They wanted me to tell the truth,
    so I said I’d lived among them,
    for years, a spy,
    but all that I wanted was love.
    They said they couldn’t love a spy.
    Couldn’t I tell them other truths?
    I said I was emotionally bankrupt,
    would turn any of them in for a kiss.
    I told them how a kiss feels
    when it’s especially undeserved;
    I thought they’d understand.
    They wanted me to say I was sorry,
    so I told them I was sorry.
    They didn’t like it that I laughed.
    They asked what I’d seen them do,
    and what I do with what I know.
    I told them: find out who you are
    before you die.
    Tell us, they insisted, what you saw.
    I saw the hawk kill a smaller bird.
    I said life is one long leavetaking.
    They wanted me to speak
    like a journalist. I’ll try, I said.
    I told them I could depict the end
    of the world, and my hand wouldn’t tremble.
    I said nothing’s serious except destruction.
    They wanted to help me then.
    They wanted me to share with them,
    that was the word they used, share.
    I said it’s bad taste
    to want to agree with many people.
    I told them I’ve tried to give
    as often as I’ve betrayed.
    They wanted to know my superiors,
    to whom did I report?
    I told them I accounted to no one,
    that each of us is his own punishment.
    If I love you, one of them cried out,
    what would you give up?
    There were others before you,
    I wanted to say, and you’d be the one
    before someone else. Everything, I said.

  5. Alan Cordle said,

    March 30, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Dear Danteday,

    Who do you think you are? Think about it.

    • Christopher Woodman said,

      March 30, 2010 at 12:14 pm

      Dear Alan,
      I already said who I am but perhaps you weren’t there. I’m Christopher Woodman finding it hard to go on here.

      • Alan Cordle said,

        March 30, 2010 at 10:36 pm

        Christopher, why are you appearing as another persona, ordering Thomas to apologize and take down posts? *That* is what someone like Travis would do.

      • wfkammann said,

        March 30, 2010 at 11:06 pm

        A perfect topic for March Madness!!!

        A Mad Tea-Party
        There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head. ‘Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,’ thought Alice; ‘only, as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.’

        The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: ‘No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming. ‘There’s plenty of room!’ said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

        ‘Have some wine,’ the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

        Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. ‘I don’t see any wine,’ she remarked.

        ‘There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.

        ‘Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,’ said Alice angrily.

        ‘It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,’ said the March Hare.

        ‘I didn’t know it was your table,’ said Alice; ‘it’s laid for a great many more than three.’

        ‘Your hair wants cutting,’ said the Hatter. He had been looking at Alice for some time with great curiosity, and this was his first speech.

        ‘You should learn not to make personal remarks,’ Alice said with some severity; ‘it’s very rude.’

        The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, ‘Why is a raven like a writing-desk?’

        ‘Come, we shall have some fun now!’ thought Alice. ‘I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles.—I believe I can guess that,’ she added aloud.

        ‘Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?’ said the March Hare.

        ‘Exactly so,’ said Alice.

        ‘Then you should say what you mean,’ the March Hare went on.

        ‘I do,’ Alice hastily replied; ‘at least—at least I mean what I say—that’s the same thing, you know.’

        ‘Not the same thing a bit!’ said the Hatter. ‘You might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see”!’

        ‘You might just as well say,’ added the March Hare, ‘that “I like what I get” is the same thing as “I get what I like”!’

        ‘You might just as well say,’ added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, ‘that “I breathe when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe”!’

        ‘It is the same thing with you,’ said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn’t much.

        You jabber when you don’t understand, but I don’t understand when you jabber. Is that it??

  6. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Tom, more superb work from yet another of the Elite Eight!

    A Sad Child

    Margaret Atwood

    You’re sad because you’re sad.
    It’s psychic. It’s the age. It’s chemical.
    Go see a shrink or take a pill,
    or hug your sadness like an eyeless doll
    you need to sleep.

    Well, all children are sad
    but some get over it.
    Count your blessings. Better than that,
    buy a hat. Buy a coat or pet.
    Take up dancing to forget.

    Forget what?
    Your sadness, your shadow,
    whatever it was that was done to you
    the day of the lawn party
    when you came inside flushed with the sun,
    your mouth sulky with sugar,
    in your new dress with the ribbon
    and the ice-cream smear,
    and said to yourself in the bathroom,
    I am not the favorite child.

    My darling, when it comes
    right down to it
    and the light fails and the fog rolls in
    and you’re trapped in your overturned body
    under a blanket or burning car,

    and the red flame is seeping out of you
    and igniting the tarmac beside you head
    or else the floor, or else the pillow,
    none of us is;
    or else we all are.

  7. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

    The Lanyard

    Billy Collins

    The other day I was ricocheting slowly
    off the blue walls of this room,
    moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
    from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
    when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
    where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

    No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
    could send one into the past more suddenly—
    a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
    by a deep Adirondack lake
    learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
    into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

    I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
    or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
    but that did not keep me from crossing
    strand over strand again and again
    until I had made a boxy
    red and white lanyard for my mother.

    She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
    and I gave her a lanyard.
    She nursed me in many a sick room,
    lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
    laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
    and then led me out into the airy light

    and taught me to walk and swim,
    and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
    Here are thousands of meals, she said,
    and here is clothing and a good education.
    And here is your lanyard, I replied,
    which I made with a little help from a counselor.

    Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
    strong legs, bones and teeth,
    and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
    and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
    And here, I wish to say to her now,
    is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

    that you can never repay your mother,
    but the rueful admission that when she took
    the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
    I was as sure as a boy could be
    that this useless, worthless thing I wove
    out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

  8. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Tom, Marla here with five spells from Elite Eightist Reb Livingston. You go, Reb! Grrrl power!

    Spell for Extinguishing Woe-Dodo

    O you who consummated mental somersaults, prescribed gash
    for me, remove the frowngown, for I am Sultana, emerged from
    and feasted upon Fishyman, within he teaches how to feed the
    minnows and ready the swamp. I revived my torso from simp
    ash, ironed Apron when Vale balked. Woe-Dodo, consumer
    of gloomporn, pyroassed bootyshawl, let this water dissolve the
    flies you tend. I am milestone and migraine, I walk with my torso,
    I speak with confiscated flippers reclaiming the higher ache.

    Another Spell for Extinguishing Woe-Dodo

    I heartsored the eastered gland, I will not enlarge the plate of depletion,
    nor ring the shanked baubledasses, O they caressed! Because I evolved
    brass paramour into the blitzed milked fray, shunned to whom the GOURD
    tranced her scour into that decay when the bethrolined towers aligned
    during the fish-turned-seal-turned-hippopotamus pageant.

    As for he who wallows in this spell, he will not swap me for Spectre and he
    will never again feud funeral in the realm of Damsel.

    Spell for Being Lukeswarmed into Any Scrape One May Fetish

    I outlasted the woe-dodoness while the Ostrich-Goose untaught you to me.
    Hailworm to you, you who floozied up the skyracket, the wifeless, pining bird
    who gargles moontight meltnoun. I shall demyth you and I shall joyride the
    GOURD; maim way, so I may patter on.

    Spell For a Squat-Token of Dread Stone

    You halve your breastfed, O Harpy; you halve your tower, O Harpy; you
    halve your tragic into marry, O Harpy. The token is sentry for this wantonness
    which will revive whomever attains autonomy despite.

    A thugscrew; you shall not dragwept another Damsel for there is pairing and poise.

    Spell For a Fountain Faker to be Settled on the Jugular of the Hierophant

    O my Fishyman, my Shepherd, and my Harpy, remind me, keep watch, for I am
    Damsel of the Gourds who should be reminded of Gigolo’s goggles.

    To be awoken by a fountain faker swirled with Bombswell tribed together; it is
    to be settled on the jugular of the Hierophant on the on the eve of burial.

  9. Bernard Welt said,

    March 30, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Nobody seems to be able to find any of my poems to throw in here (not surprising), so, absolutely appalled by Reb Livingston’s prolificness, not to say profligacy, I’m compelled to throw one in myself:

    The Nature of Things

    Black is not just another color.
    Silence is not just a sound.
    It’s like a falling leaf
    But I’m not saying how.

    It’s short, I know, But I’d like to point out that it’s absolutely impeccable.

    • wfkammann said,

      March 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm

      Take out the word “another” and you might be right.

      • thomasbrady said,

        March 30, 2010 at 7:20 pm

        Once you start pulling at the thread of that sweater you’ll end up with:

        Black, silent, falling leaf.

        I think “another” works.

      • wfkammann said,

        March 30, 2010 at 10:55 pm

        Oh yes, “The sounds of silence”
        If silence/black is the absence of sound/color
        then black it not “another” color, it’s not a color at all
        He says silence is not “just” a sound; so, it IS a sound and IS black a color? another color? or isn’t it? And how is that leaf helping me out? Is this your poem, Tom? that you defend its impeccability? I’m standing here like a chicken and can’t agree.

  10. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Tom, Marla down here on the floor, it’s getting pretty intense in the area, I’ve been Googling Bernard Welt’s name for the last hour looking for his poems to post, he’s posted a short one at the site, that’s for our viewing audience, here’s hoping he’ll be back to give us more. Whew! I think a musical interlude might be in order to calm down the fraying nerves, we have A.B. Michelangeli at the Steinway set up at mid-court. My Palm Pilot tells me Baldassaro Galuppi lived from 1706-1785. Arturo, it’s all you!


    Robert Browning

    Oh Galuppi, Baldassaro, this is very sad to find!
    I can hardly misconceive you; it would prove me deaf and blind;
    But although I take your meaning, ’tis with such a heavy mind!

    Here you come with your old music, and here’s all the good it brings.
    What, they lived once thus at Venice where the merchants were the kings,
    Where Saint Mark’s is, where the Doges used to wed the sea with rings?

    Ay, because the sea’s the street there; and ’tis arched by . . . what you call
    . . . Shylock’s bridge with houses on it, where they kept the carnival:
    I was never out of England — it’s as if I saw it all.

    Did young people take their pleasure when the sea was warm in May?
    Balls and masks begun at midnight, burning ever to mid-day,
    When they made up fresh adventures for the morrow, do you say?

    Was a lady such a lady, cheeks so round and lips so red, —
    On her neck the small face buoyant, like a bell-flower on its bed,
    O’er the breast’s superb abundance where a man might base his head?

    Well, and it was graceful of them — they’d break talk off and afford
    — She, to bite her mask’s black velvet — he, to finger on his sword,
    While you sat and played Toccatas, stately at the clavichord?

    What? Those lesser thirds so plaintive, sixths diminished, sigh on sigh
    , Told them something? Those suspensions, those solutions — “Must we die?”
    Those commiserating sevenths — “Life might last! we can but try!

    “Were you happy?” — “Yes.” — “And are you still as happy?” — “Yes. And you?”
    — “Then, more kisses!” — “Did I stop them, when a million seemed so few?”
    Hark, the dominant’s persistence till it must be answered to!

    So, an octave struck the answer. Oh, they praised you, I dare say!
    “Brave Galuppi! that was music! good alike at grave and gay!
    “I can always leave off talking when I hear a master play!”

    Then they left you for their pleasure: till in due time, one by one,
    Some with lives that came to nothing, some with deeds as well undone,
    Death stepped tacitly and took them where they never see the sun.

    But when I sit down to reason, think to take my stand nor swerve,
    While I triumph o’er a secret wrung from nature’s close reserve,
    In you come with your cold music till I creep thro’ every nerve.

    Yes, you, like a ghostly cricket, creaking where a house was burned:
    “Dust and ashes, dead and done with, Venice spent what Venice earned.
    “The soul, doubtless, is immortal — where a soul can be discerned.

    “Yours for instance: you know physics, something of geology,
    “Mathematics are your pastime; souls shall rise in their degree;
    “Butterflies may dread extinction, — you’ll not die, it cannot be!

    “As for Venice and her people, merely born to bloom and drop,
    “Here on earth they bore their fruitage, mirth and folly were the crop:
    “What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop?

    “Dust and ashes!” So you creak it, and I want the heart to scold.
    Dear dead women, with such hair, too — what’s become of all the gold
    Used to hang and brush their bosoms? I feel chilly and grown old.

  11. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Tom, Marla here with one from the great Janet Bowdan – I’m awaiting the poet’s approval before I post another great poem of hers – the league is very strict about that kind of thing, and I need this job!

    Sumerian Angel Over Iraq

    Janet Bowdan

    —for Marianne Thespina Connolly

    1. The Sumerian Angel, huge, takes up
    most of the sky, the funerary ornaments
    like tin flowers in her headdress, her four
    pairs of soft butterfly wings, her helpless
    shrug of gauze scarf. What can she do
    rising out of the desert sands, looming above
    the ancient Ziggurat her temple? Beside her
    the oil refinery fires are the only color.

    2. My grandmother walked into the Baghdad Alliance
    Francaise dripping wet with rain and my grandfather
    fell in love. 1932.

    3. The Sumerian Angel’s mask is stone. She
    has been watching for decades. She was used to seeing
    the Shi’a Muslims as everpresent as the Euphrates,
    the Tigris rivers, there for thousands of years, and now
    displaced. In October 1932, Iran became independent
    of the Ottoman Empire. Governments come
    and go, oil extracted from her desert, a ground rich
    but not fertile. The CIA reports water control projects
    have dried up or diverted feeder streams, left soil degradation,
    erosion. The Sumerian Angel looks for the Shi’a Muslims.
    She sees dust storms, sand storms, floods. She sees
    the oil refineries burning against the sand.

  12. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Tom, Marla down on the floor, I’ve just been green-lighted by the poet herself, Janet Bowdan, to put up this poem, she is definitely one of the good guys/gals!

    Tree (Tapestry)

    Janet Bowdan

    our family, timber merchants, the ones who fled Russia to Persia
    the first time, 1921, Baku across the Caspian Sea to Krasuovodsk,
    then horse and mule in a convoy across the mountains
    gorges and fast mountain rivers—my grandmother wrote
    “Mother sat enthroned on big cushions on a horse
    holding 6 months old uncle Moulik on her lap.” So it took
    twelve days, bugs, the baby’s dysentery, malaria for
    everyone else, until they met Father and lived in Teheran
    in a lovely house with a beautiful garden for two years
    before going back to Baku. Father was arrested in the early hours,
    released, rearrested, released and went to Moscow to obtain
    exit permits and visas for Palestine. Hearing he was to be
    rearrested, an uncle bought a train ticket for Odessa to coincide
    with Father’s train home, the two trains arriving at Rostov
    at the same time on the same platform, the two men
    changed places. To join him in Odessa our family had to do
    everything in secret: “nothing was packed and when we left the house
    it was as if we were going visiting someone living in the next street.”
    Always we had to wait for other trains either filled with soldiers
    or deportees to pass. At every station there was a mad rush
    at the huge urns for boiling water to make tea; always there was fear
    that someone would be left behind. From Odessa, by ship to Jaffa.
    ……………“That is how we left Russia in 1923 or 4.
    ……………We never saw any of the relatives since.”

    our family’s other branch, a story about the ones who fled Russia to Germany,
    what timing! that they started over in the Weimar Republic, did well
    and then fled again, left everything again, went back to Russia, Stalin,
    disappeared into the white of another siege, or maybe Siberia, hard
    to tell. That emptiness of not seeing them: for my grandmother
    who remembered the spacious house, the nursemaids, the tutors,
    who on returning lived crammed into a few rooms, tight and close,
    a wealth of family—what was it for her, now in England with her own
    daughters and a husband with the army in Belgium, for them safe in Palestine
    to hear nothing? to wait through the war, to show Moulik old photos
    faces fading against the black garments, the sun-drenched background
    so he would know them: This is your uncle, who saved your father. These
    are your cousins. And how memory works, the little boy says, yes,
    I remember them. I remember the tree in the courtyard. I remember
    the light against the tree, its shadow against the wall where they sat.
    The husband brings home stories of lacemakers, the old ladies in Brussels
    making delicate patterns in thread. They don’t talk of fighting, have
    no words yet for what has happened—they don’t even know whether
    the family is gone, only that it is lost. They might say, “pogrom,”
    when the children have gone to bed, when the great-grandmother
    travels over from Israel. They might say, “purge.” They write in ink
    on the back of the photographs, names in English. The daughters grow
    up, move away, a quarter of a century passes. Then there is a phone call.
    They are in Israel, the cousins are in Israel. There are more phone calls,
    letters, my grandmother goes to see them, brings back embroidery:
    this is what she sells, the cousin, needlework of native plants, a side-line.
    Really she is a specialist, in demand: she repairs Gobelin tapestries.
    She repairs only the faces, the ones that have vanished into time

  13. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Tom, Marla coming to you live via satellite, and today is Passover!


    Cynthia Ozick

    Before his death, Rabbi Zusya said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me: Why were you not Moses? They will ask me: Why were you not Zusya?”
    — Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim

    But who was Zusya? What shall I say
    If I am asked on that Last Day?
    “Zusya wasn’t Moses” – can this reprieve
    What Zusya was, or undeceive?

    And where was Zusya? How shall I accuse
    Myself of finding what I could not lose?
    Where the deed was, there I woke.
    Where my neck turned, turned the yoke.

    And how was Zusya? Was I torn
    From not being to be born?
    Or was I always in a place,
    Now a body now a space?

    And when was Zusya? How shall I mark
    My mute age aboard the Ark?
    Did Jacob grapple after or before
    I went naked through the gaseous door?

    And what was Zusya? How may I wrap
    My loot, if what I was was trap
    For catching God? And should the netter
    Feel on himself this strangling fetter?

    O why was Zusya? And if I deny
    I’m Zusya, will Zusya cry
    That he is I? How can I hide
    From this inner Zusya in my side?

  14. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Tom, Phoebe Snow is here for yet another musical interlude, here to perform her own “Poetry Man”. For those viewers with internet access, the poetry-loving sitemeisters at YouTube have graciously given us permission to put up the link to the song:

    Poetry Man

    Phoebe Snow

    Ooh yeah yeah yeah
    Ooh yeah

    You make me laugh
    Cause your eyes they light the night
    They look right through me
    La la la la

    You bashful boy
    You’re hiding something sweet
    Please give it to me yeah, to me

    Talk to me some more
    You don’t have to go
    You’re the Poetry Man
    You make things alright, yeah

    Ooh yeah yeah yeah
    Ooh yeah

    You are a genie
    All I ask for is your smile
    Each time I rub the lamp
    La la la la

    When I am with you
    I have a giggling teen-age crush
    Then I’m a sultry vamp, yeah
    A sultry vamp

    Talk to me some more
    You don’t have to go
    You’re the Poetry Man
    You make things all right

    Ooh yeah yeah yeah
    Ooh yeah

    So once again
    It’s time to say so long
    And so recall the call of life
    La la la la

    You’re going home now
    Home’s that place somewhere you go each day
    To see your wife, yeah
    To see your wife

    Talk to me some more
    You don’t have to go
    You’re the Poetry Man
    You make things all right

  15. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Tom, the crowd was chanting “Mar-vell! Mar-vell!” so here’s some by popular demand….

    To his Coy Mistress

    by Andrew Marvell

    Had we but world enough, and time,
    This coyness, lady, were no crime.
    We would sit down and think which way
    To walk, and pass our long love’s day;
    Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
    Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
    Of Humber would complain. I would
    Love you ten years before the Flood;
    And you should, if you please, refuse
    Till the conversion of the Jews.
    My vegetable love should grow
    Vaster than empires, and more slow.
    An hundred years should go to praise
    Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
    Two hundred to adore each breast,
    But thirty thousand to the rest;
    An age at least to every part,
    And the last age should show your heart.
    For, lady, you deserve this state,
    Nor would I love at lower rate.

    But at my back I always hear
    Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;
    And yonder all before us lie
    Deserts of vast eternity.
    Thy beauty shall no more be found,
    Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
    My echoing song; then worms shall try
    That long preserv’d virginity,
    And your quaint honour turn to dust,
    And into ashes all my lust.
    The grave’s a fine and private place,
    But none I think do there embrace.

    Now therefore, while the youthful hue
    Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
    And while thy willing soul transpires
    At every pore with instant fires,
    Now let us sport us while we may;
    And now, like am’rous birds of prey,
    Rather at once our time devour,
    Than languish in his slow-chapp’d power.
    Let us roll all our strength, and all
    Our sweetness, up into one ball;
    And tear our pleasures with rough strife
    Thorough the iron gates of life.
    Thus, though we cannot make our sun
    Stand still, yet we will make him run.

  16. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 30, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Tom, it’s pandemonium down here, the crowd wants more, let’s bring on Eric Roberston Dodds (1893-1979).

    When the Ecstatic Body Grips

    Eric Robertson Dodds

    When the ecstatic body grips
    Its heaven, with little sobbing cries,
    And lips are crushed on hot blind lips,
    I read strange pity in your eyes.

    For that in you which is not mine,
    And that in you which I love best,
    And that, which my day-thoughts divine
    Masterless still, still unpossessed,

    Sits in the blue eyes’ frightened stare,
    A naked lonely-dwelling thing,
    A frail thing from its body-lair
    Drawn at my body’s summoning;

    Whispering low, “O unknown man,
    Whose hunger on my hunger wrought,
    Body shall give what body can,
    Shall give you all- save what you sought.”

    Whispering, “O secret one, forgive,
    Forgive and be content though still
    Beyond the blood’s surrender live
    The darkness of the separate will.

    “Even if in the veins we know
    Body’s delirium, body’s peace-
    Ask not that ghost to ghost shall go,
    Essence in essence merge and cease.”

    But swiftly, as in sudden sleep,
    That You in you is veiled or dead;
    And the world’s shrunken to a heap
    Of hot flesh straining on a bed.

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