Very fine is my valentine
Very fine and very mine
Very mine is my valentine very mine and very fine.
Very fine is my valentine and mine, very fine very mine and mine is my valentine.
—Gertrude Stein reads “Idem the Same: A Valentine to Sherwood Anderson” with gumption.
simple pine, oak, grand magnolia, he said
they frighten him, that what they hold in their silences
silences: sometimes a boy will slip
from his climbing, drown but the myth knows why,
sometimes a boy will swing with the leaves.
Night pulled its
burdens into harbor and I woke,
glad for the day, its telltale light,
its flying minute, that genie work,
and the everlasting perturbations
of my people, their glories,
their heavy last words,
and for these, I rose.
She’s a tease,
tears her skirts off
one by one.
Drops her petals
as if she could always
what she looks like
On a cold night,
we can see forever.
We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
That slowly chafes its puckered index toward us,
Facing the dull squint with what innocence
And what surprise!
And yet these fine collapses are not lies
More than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;
Our obsequies are, in a way, no enterprise.
We can evade you, and all else but the heart:
What blame to us if the heart live on.
“Poets old and young are often asked in interviews when and how they decided to become poets. The assumption is that there was a moment when the poet came to realize there can be no other destiny for him or her but to be a poet. This was followed by an announcement to his or her family; their mother exclaimed, “Oh God, what did we do to deserve this?” while the father ripped out his belt and chased them around the room threatening to kill them. Telling the interviewers that there was no such decision in my case inevitably disappoints them. They want to hear something heroic and inspiring, and I tell them that I was just another high school kid who wrote poems in order to impress a couple of girls, with no other ambition beyond that. They also want to know why I, not being a native speaker of English, didn’t write poems in Serbian, and they wonder how I arrived at the decision to forsake my mother tongue. Again, my answer seems frivolous when I suggest that when poetry is used as an instrument of seduction, the first requirement is that it be understood. No American girl was likely to fall for a guy who reads love poems to her in Serbian as she sips a Coca-Cola.”
—Charles Simic in the preface to “Selected Early Poems”
for Jack McLean
A cat or dog of unknown origin is approaching quickly. You have been instructed not to pet it; these instructions have come from someone somewhere many years ago, and are just now resurfacing out of the recesses of your memory. As events over the course of this loaded one-or-two-minute moment unfold, the cat or dog produces out of its mouth not a full set of menacing teeth, but a single, living ant. And is this an offering, salutation, or insult. Or Christmas.
Not that my abstinence has helped in any way
I try not to want
what you want
a sleep not mine
but the kind you pay for
empty of black but full of green
He says that’s not his name,
when you know it’s his name.
She in whose frank gaze
you were wont to drown now averts her eyes.
Don’t even get me started on our co-workers,
whose sinuosities are instinct with a prevaricating design;
or on the subway in the sand;
or on the reason why I forget what I should remember
and remember what I should forget;
or on the flamingos that dart like sparrows
and soar and dive and congregate
in this our city, birdless until now since time began.
A shimmering, as in a mirage. A darkening, as in an aftermath
A white light, then a red light, then a black light
Rainy day, ugly little room.
I will make the mountains hurt.
How will you do that? How ill you
Do so? The oracles talk a lot
Of shit, like any
Body, make your own