Amy Gerstler: her fate and Eileen Myles’ are forever intertwined.

We’ve never done this and don’t want to do this. Amy Gerstler and Eileen Myles have produced poems so precisely equal in worth that every simulating sports device has failed to bring us a winner. We have even gone so far as to contemplate Amy and Eileen donning basketball shorts and sneakers, with numbers on their backs, and flying (gratis, of course) our two poets to a secret basketball court location. We, for one second, entertained the idea of (shudder) asking Christopher Woodman. Such is the nature of the crisis; for what if there can be no winner? How could March Madness continue? How could the most popular poetry trope in the modern age continue to entertain and enlighten? We will not stoop to “a vote,” for how can democracy ever be allowed to enter the bedroom of the sacred muse? Perish the thought!

Myles has unrolled a meditation—“Eileen stay here/forever finding/the past/in the future”—on a vision of Our Lady on a stain on a bathtub cover, and Gerstler has heaved up a poem that breaks the heart as it ends, “Bye.” These poems have an accidental, insoucient quality which nevertheless enhances their visionary inevitability—Myles has written the best Beat poem in the world and still kept her integrity, while Gerstler has fashioned a bauble that electrifies.

We don’t want to do this, but we will.

O, Fortuna!

Are you not the ruler of all?

Is Chance not the secret to life?

We have flipped a coin.

Congratulations, Eileen Myles.

The heavens have given you a 101-98 victory!

Eileen Myles is going to The Sweet Sixteen.


  1. Aaron Asphar said,

    April 22, 2011 at 11:21 am

    For you poetry is a psychotic discourse within which to hide from life.

    • Nooch said,

      April 22, 2011 at 11:43 am

      For me it’s “the novel” that allows me to hide
      From life, and shows me another world—
      And when I find a novel that truly fits my lock,
      The glories of life are truly unfurled.

    • thomasbrady said,

      April 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm


      A number of issues are being explored in this post: The role of chance or randomness in life, poetry and competition, the role of fate, the accidental in Eileen’s vision, for example, as a “stain” on a bathtub cover looked to Eileen like Our Lady, the accidental ‘look’ of the lyric as opposed to the will of the poet, the pairing of Gerstler and Myles, the pairing of Myles and the Lady of her vision in her poem…If you only look for it, Aaron, there’s lots to see.


  2. Mark said,

    April 22, 2011 at 11:39 am

    How is this still going on?

    It’s almost fucking May for chrissakes

    • Nooch said,

      April 22, 2011 at 11:45 am

      Yeah, it’s Scarriet AmPoRev May Madness—
      When it’s over, I won’t be able to contain my sadness.

    • james bagger said,

      April 22, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      it’s one of the funniest and most creative displays of poetry commentary around. why not milk it for at least another month.

      • thomasbrady said,

        April 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm

        May Madness? March Madness? It’s all the same.

        Poetry is slower than basketball.

  3. Poem support said,

    April 23, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Eileen’s Vision

    One night I was home alone
    quite late past eleven
    and my dog was whining and
    moaning and I went over
    to stroke her & pat
    her & proclaim
    her beauty &
    then I returned
    to my art review
    but Rosie wouldn’t
    stop. Something was
    wrong. & then
    I saw her.
    It looked like a circle
    a wooden mouth
    in the upper third
    of my bathtub
    cover which
    was standing
    on its side
    it is the Lady I thought
    this perfect sphere
    on the wooden
    bathtub cover
    incidentally separating
    kitchen &
    middle room
    in my home
    where I
    live &
    work. That is
    all. I’m just
    a simple
    catholic girl
    I had been
    thinking, pondering
    over my
    review. That’s
    why it’s
    so hard
    for me but the
    Lady came &
    she said, stay here
    Eileen stay here
    forever finding
    the past
    in the future
    & the future
    in the past
    know that it’s
    always so
    going round &
    it is with
    you when
    you write

    & she didn’t
    go, she
    remains a stain
    on the bathtub
    cover, along with
    many other stains,
    the dog’s leash &
    half-scraped lesbian
    invisibility stickers
    and other less specific
    but equally permanent
    traces of paper &
    four of
    them and they
    are round too
    like the Lady
    & I don’t have to
    tell anyone.

    Eileen Myles

  4. Poem support said,

    April 23, 2011 at 8:18 am

    That Sinking Feeling

    One feels like an animal
    pacing its filthy cave.
    Bits of bone litter the floor.
    The rusty smell of turning meat
    festoons the stagnant air.
    One begins to think all action
    leads to grief. Joints stiffen.
    Arthritis prefigures rigor mortis.
    The light is silver this late
    in the year, razorlike, expedient,
    on the verge of turning,
    like that meat mentioned earlier.
    Animals are happy on days like today.
    Blessings meltdown upon post-modern
    heads, copious as flocks
    of white-winged religious tracts
    fluttering south for the winter,
    illustrated with watercolors
    of adults, children and dogs greeting
    dead friends in the afterlife.
    How could anybody be glum
    in this superlative weather? Well,
    I’ll tell you. The day is a young
    bubble, with a tiny fire at its core.
    My four brothers and I were accidentally
    shrunk to the size of ants this afternoon
    by our bumbling garage-inventor daddy.
    Now we’re trapped inside the bubble
    as it rises, weaving, on dad’s breaths
    and mischievous breezes, floating towards
    that open window. Bye.

    Amy Gerstler

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