Monday, May 7, 2012

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine posted one of my poems on his blog. I'd like to return the favor -- so here are two pieces I'm particularly fond of by Peter Swanson. Peter took my formal poetry workshop at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and decided to trust my feedback even after I misspelled "scansion" on the board on the first day. Since class ended in March, we've stayed in touch and continued to workshop poems in various bars around Boston. Fun fact: He also got his M.F.A. at Emerson. Currently, he lives in Somerville with his wife (the talented Charlene Sawyer, who designed my new website) and their delightful cat, Finty. Hope you like his work as much as I do.

First Day of Kindergarten

You will now be judged by those who do not love you.
The life you had before will be given new names:
recess, reading-time, the weekend, summer.
And the world will be divided into two—

into those of us who spend our years
attempting to undo that day, to find
the comforts of the book-lined nursery,
the ancient house that's filled with family,

And into those who try to replicate
the hour when the dullness of their lives
exploded in a thousand leaves of fire.

Jetsetters and the dream-besotted,
you will know them by their distant gaze,
their eyes, once yours, now fixed on trailing lights.

Dainty Curtains

"It was a room-shaped room with furniture-shaped furniture and dainty curtains."
– Ian Fleming, Thunderball

Our dreams, and nothing else, imagine rooms
Not shaped like rooms. We wake in bed-shaped beds,
And drag our human shapes through day-shaped days.
New shapes will never change our waking words.

Our love, be it ordinary, murderous,
Bestial, spiritual, always assumes the shape Of love. The words define themselves for us:

Give us this day our bread-shaped bread
And forgive us our dreams that come stranger
Than fiction. Forgive us our bodies
That wither like bodies, and give us our coffins

In their coffiny-shapes. For Heaven,
We know, is devoid of rooms and furniture,
While Hell is lined with dainty curtains.


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