Tuesday, February 1, 2011

He imagined himself


A thought in passing while reading Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems:

He imagined himself in sweet old age
right up to his death on the pavement at fifty-two,

and at that moment the kids who were there
looked every bit as right and bright
as his own two grandchildren,

if not better in that light,
somehow.

I share this not to draw any subtle or grand connection; rather, this is just an illustration of how my mind carries on its own conversation while I read.

Here’s a lovely short poem from the book:

In a Back Alley

Remembrance for a great man is this.
The newsies are pitching pennies.
And on the copper disk is the man’s face.
Dead lover of boys, what do you ask for now?


And here’s one from Robert Frost’s Mountain Interval, a book I finished reading a couple of days ago:

House Fear

Always—I tell you this they learned—
Always at night when they returned
To the lonely house from far away
To lamps unlighted and fire gone gray,
They learned to rattle the lock and key
To give whatever might chance to be
Warning and time to be off in flight:
And preferring the out- to the in-door night,
They learned to leave the house door wide
Until they had lit the lamp inside.

I offer no analysis. What would be the point? Not one of you is incapable of drawing your own sound, meaningful conclusions.

And if I were Poet Laureate (ha!), this is what I’d say: You are the poem; there is no other way.

9 comments:

Woman in a Window said...

william, i have to try to calm my mind down to receive these poems. my mind is like an auditorium of antsy children at an assembly. this living and aging, passing one another...we are all the same age, just some of us further along in the same race. we are both separate and together. if the squat child in front of me would just sit down, and if i could stop fidgetting, perhaps i'd be able to receive this and keep it in my chest for breath.

i see that you know this, but have you received it? do you breathe slowly with it? or do you struggle?

(ha! you ha! i see you all hands and karate chop!)

xo
erin

William Michaelian said...

A lamb chop would probably be more accurate. Warm blood on the killing stone, a tuft of fur tickled by the winter wind.

Have I received it? A different answer every day.

Old 333 said...

Damn, the mention of Lamb Chop threw me. Can you believe that was once the name of a friendly stuffed sheep on a children's show? Shudder. Why not just have the puppet's throat open, ragged, while you're at it?

Anyway - loved the quotes and thoughts, William. The first bit was the best bit - was that you, that first poem? 'Cause it ruled.

My word verification is "backerub". i HATE backrubs, make me want to scream and lash out. Grrrr.

Thanks for a great post, William - and my coffee is still hot! I think. Better find out. You have a good day -

Peter

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Peter. I’ll do my best. That first bit was, is, and remains me — I thought it was clear; I certainly wouldn’t want to blame it on Carl or Robert, which is probably what they’d be going by if they were alive and had blogs. And so sorry to astonish you with my sudden outburst of cruelty. It’s safe to say, though, that we are picturing different things.

rub-a-dub

Old 333 said...

The first bit really was good, I thought.

My ex-mother-in-law used to call bums "rubbie dubbies".

rosaria said...

"You are the poem: there is no..."
I like this a whole lot.

William Michaelian said...

Peter, thanks again. I guess “throw the bums out” would have different meanings in different cultures and situations.

Thank you, Rosaria. I mean it with all my heart.

Indigo said...

I can see myself being the prose, for each of us sees what we wish of words and emotions. Your poem had the resonance of peace and comfort, a sense of well being with who you are.

In a Back Alley had the temperence of fear and dark for me. Then again I put myself in these words and I've known a certain kind of dark.

I wonder if we can be open, compassionate beings that espouse fear and ugliness in words - our words that none would guess the author. (Hugs)Indigo

William Michaelian said...

When you say you’ve known a certain kind of dark, I understand that it’s also shown you a certain kind of light, which you bring in turn to your reading and this commerce of words — because words are in some ways like coins of the realm: we can stuff them in our pocket without looking at them and use them without ever knowing their value, or we can see and wonder at the ideas they represent. Thank you, Indigo.