Friday, August 31, 2007

Poem of the week and other stuff

It's been crazy this week. First week of classes. It took all the energy I had just to come home from work, collapse onto the couch, and watch way too much tennis on TV. (Go, James Blake!)

But this weekend should be nice. The weather has finally broken, after far too much heat and humidity for far too long. And this weekend is the Fourth Street Festival of Arts & Crafts, which for me means looking at a lot of gorgeous art I wish I could afford, making goo-goo eyes at lots of dogs, and most likely running into any number of people I know. This is the festival's 31st year; it will be my 29th year in a row of attending. (Wow, I'm old.)

* * * * *

I just picked up Laurel Blossom's Wednesday: New and Selected Poems via interlibrary loan. (This copy came from the Virginia Intermont College library, and it's signed!) There are a couple of poems in here that I stumbled across years ago -- I was an undergrad, or maybe (could it have been this long ago?) in high school; they must have been published in Poetry, as that was one of the very few literary journals I was aware of back then (because the public library carried it). In fact, I'm pretty sure that is where I remember finding them. Anyway, something about these two poems just grabbed me so hard at the time, I remember reading them aloud to myself and loving the way the language felt in my mouth. If I stumbled across these poems for the first time now, as a considerably older woman with considerably wider reading behind her, would they grab me quite as fiercely? Maybe not. I have no way of knowing. But I'm so grateful for the way they became a part of my younger vocabulary, and for what they taught me at the time.

Here's one of them.


Doomed

The road sign reads Kansas, another example
of language imitating life. The land's so flat
the wind acts as if it would like to blow you to hell, but
you're modern, this is it: a wheat field

is a wheat field
is a wheat field till you wish. Be careful.
This is that dead stretch they warned you
to cross at night. They were right. If you're driving
straight through to the Coast, you're both crazy
by this time, you are not quite the strangers you
may have been when you left.
Neither of you has ever been this far west.

Your companion pops No-Doz, flips the radio dial
every few minutes to make sure he is
where he thinks he is, no fool
like the deejays spinning blind in their booths.
Every station repeats the same news.
You swear you can smell the sea
and he loves it, no question
California, the two of you, the future

you've heard a hundred times before. It's a hit
and it shines on the other side of this landscape
like the light from the setting sun or a star, traveling
at the same speed you are.

--Laurel Blossom
from Wednesday: New and Selected Poems (Roseville, MI: Ridgeway Press, 2004)

4 comments:

Carol Peters said...

Laurel has a new book coming out -- Degrees of Latitude -- I think you'll like it.

Thanks for the heads up on Perillo's book. It was a surprise to me because I expected it to be about poetry but it's really about her learning how to live a life of severe illness. Pensive, sobering. Loved learning what the Tibetan word bardo means -- bardo is where poetry comes from.

C. Dale said...

Blossom's new book is being published by Four Way Books. And I think the Fall books is where FWB will start offering big discounts on their books at their own website.

Anne said...

Carol: Glad you enjoyed the Perillo book! Yes, it's only partly about poetry -- actually that was one of the things I loved about it; she didn't try to set poetry aside from the rest of her life, really.

CDY: Thanks for the heads-up! I love ordering directly from publishers when I can, and I love discounts, so that sounds right up my alley. *grin*

Jilly said...

I liked that poem a lot.