Archive for March 31st, 2011

Gulp air and shout!

When does the person who writes poems become a poet? How does ministry to dead things – meter, slant rhyme, caesurae, enjambment – draw breath on the page? How to clothe with flesh those dry syllabic bones?

Beats me, but I do desire it.

I lust for the warm flesh of an image impossible to resist. A stanza that gulps air and shouts, cries, laughs. Just a couple of perfect lines that when anyone reads them they have to whisper, “Oh yeah. Oh yeah.”

Here’s the closing stanza of my favorite poem, Hymn by A.R.Ammons. In the preceding stanzas we’ve been transported ” . . . past the blackset noctilucent clouds . . . up farther than the loss of sight,” and then encountered “sporangia and simplest coelenterates . . . going right on down where the eye sees only traces.” Now Ammons bring us home:

I walk down the path down the hill where the sweetgum
has begun to ooze spring sap at the cut
and I see how the bark cracks and winds like no other bark
chasmal to my ant-soul running up and down
and if I find you I must go out deep into your
             far resolutions
and if I find you I must stay here with the separate leaves


I can feel these images drawing me deep into the bark, the sap, the separate leaves.  There’s science and biology, and then there is the spiritual connection that gives them meaning — my ant-soul the shout, the cry, the laugh.  Earth and sky.  Cell and organism.

The separate leaves.

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