Sunday, April 19, 2015

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning [Hultong Getty]

To George Sand, A Recognition

True genius, but true women! dost deny
Thy woman’s nature with manly scorn,
And break away the gauds and armlets worn
By weaker women in captivity?
Ah, vain denial! that revolted cry
Is sobbed in by a woman’s voice forlorn:
Thy woman’s hair, my sister, all unshorn,
Floats back dishevelled strength in agony,
Disproving thy man’s name: and while before
The world thou burnest in a poet fire,
We see thy woman-heart beat evermore
Through the large flame. Beat purer, heart, and higher,
Till God unsex thee on the heavenly shore,
Where unincarnate spirits purely aspire.

George Sand

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Gerald Stern

Gerald Stern [Poetry Foundation]

by Gerald Stern

I was alone and I could do what I wanted —
I couldn’t believe my luck — if I wanted to sleep
at ten in the morning I could sleep or two
in the afternoon, if that was my time, or wander
by car or foot delicately in the night
when everything was resting exhausted and stop to
eat in quiet, no humor at last, oh coffee,
coffee, I was sitting alone at a counter —
I was in a painting sort of — closeness
closer than love between me and the waitress,
and when I paid the bill more closeness, I walked
from window to window, once I walked the length
of Amsterdam Avenue, once I walked from Lake
Garda to Venice, a hundred miles, and Venice
south to Florence, through Bologna; I ate
mortadella cheap I washed in the fountains
I slept with the barking dogs and twice in my life
I woke up surrounded, once on the floor of a train station,
once on the floor of a bank. I left at five
or six in the morning; I put my keys in a bottle;
I wore two pair of socks and hid my money.

Grass and Water

The geese have their heaven and I have mine,
though both are made of grass and water and both
have sudden subtle bridges where the carved stone
changes color under the presumptive arches,
and it is microcosmic and symbolic
so I could be there lying under the stars,
if it is one of the hazy afternoons,
and even mistake the birdlime for the Milky Way
or one drop of water in the sunlight
for one of the late afternoons, though nothing I know
will save them even though their eggs are like steel,
even though their guards are wise; whereas I
still am struggling, I with the soft egg, I
with the infantile presidents. You should see me
explaining things to them, below the bridge
this side of the river, not for one good second
ridiculing them. I still am reading and thinking;
I still am comparing; and I am spending my time
like one or two others in understanding, that is
a type of heaven too, at least for me it is,
holding on to the stabbed uprooted sycamore.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ode to Becoming Able

Ode to Becoming Able

to bend 
at the waist 
beyond 90º,
I cannot tie 
a shoe, clip a 
toenail, scratch 
a low itch
after hip 
I dismay the cat —
my foreign smell,
clumsy motions.
With tools
a long 
a long-handled 
a plastic scoop
by ropes —
I can pull on 
pull up socks,
slide into 
Dansko clogs, 
slip out of 
the house 
at dawn
to climb 
the wooden
to the well house,
the cat stepping, 
beside me.
Quarter mile,
half mile, 
six weeks
before I bend 
clumsily tie
the red-suede 
Soon enough,
limber from yoga,
from walking 
two dozen
each week,
I can’t tie laces 
due to
a rebuilt thumb.
The cat stands off, 
& turns away.
I practice
circular motions
— reach, press, hold —
the pain
in my hand
so much worse
than the hip
from four times
as many nerves.
pass before
the cat sleeps
against me,
heavy weight, 
when I toss
his paws knead
the blanket
— nails long, 
bowl empty —
prompt me
to remember
I used to do.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Elisa Albert

the other thing about Steve is the sense that because I'm a female he can't immediately classify, I set him more or less on edge. Call it low-grade misogyny. It's not extreme-porno misogyny, not I'm-gonna-rape-and-kill-you misogyny, just plain old run-of-the-mill semiconscious women-are-to-fuck-or-mother misogyny. Fear of the female. Menstrual cycle as mysterious sinister secret, et cetera. Women as doormats and/or commodities and/or hookers, the end. Intuition an absurdity. Life only and always about what we can touch/articulate/own. And me with my insistence on eye contact, my opinions! My candor! My always! Feeling! So! Much! Something about how these kinds of men would never dream of hanging out with a woman for fun, talking to a woman just because her perspective on life is inherently valuable. Not, at least, if he wasn't also hoping to fuck her.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tom McCarthy

Tom McCarthy [The Guardian]

from Tom McCarthy's Satin Island:

11.6 You still haven't told me how you came to be in that airport, I said to Madison as we lay in bed one evening. There's lots of things I haven't told you, she replied. If people were to tell other people everything about themselves, we'd live in a dull world. If knowing everything about a person were the be-all and end-all of human interaction, she said, we'd just carry memory-sticks around and plug them into one another when we met. We could have little ports, slits on our sides, like extra mouths or ears or sex organs, and we'd slip these sticks in and upload, instead of talking or screwing or whatever. Would you like that, Mr. Anthropologist? No, I told her; I don't want to know everything about you. This was true; I hadn't asked her very much about herself at all — her family, her background, any of that stuff — not back in Budapest when we'd first met, and not since, either. Our liaison had been based throughout on minimum exchange of information. I don't want to know everything about you, I repeated. I just want to know what you were doing in Turin. I wasn't in Turin, she said again. Torino-Caselle, I replied, whatever. Why? she asked. I'm intrigued, I told her. What, professionally? she goaded me. That's right, I said: professionally. Well then you'll have to pay me, she said.