#poetrylive Jane Cassady “For the Comfort of Automated Phrases” Wrap-up

Just finished my re-read of this first collection from Philly writer Jane Cassady. Follow highlights on the right in my twitter-feed.

For the Comfort of Automated Phrases is a series of love poems from an engaged, life-loving life. Among the collection’s beloveds are: tech-school testimonials, announcements on public transit, moon pies, a tour guide at Sun Studios, a truckstop, the Ladies of Plano Texas Zumba class, a shiny pink katana phone, forever stamps, Beyonce, Job-Quitters, and several poems to Philadelphia. Cassaday also works in an invented-form here, taking lyrics to a song, cutting the words apart, and using them to create a new poem, including the very very funny “Letter from the Divine Whatever to the Newly Out” created from Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”

The language here is rich, the images original and yet banging the chord of absolute truth, with tenderness exposed all over the place. I have a particular fondness for the poem below, because I’ve written about these same Germantown mockingbirds mocking the sounds of car alarms. And because #5 made me unable to keep reading until I finished laughing.

Philadelphia Mix Tape

1. For the price of taking a tract,
a choir on the sidewalk

2. When the soon-to-be President spoke in the park, he
was unprepared for call-and-response.

3. In line at Pathmark, a woman crooning
“If I were a boy…” over her shopping cart.

4. Waiting for a bus, South Philly, March: the bricks
reverberate with rehearsing Mummers.

5. Unitarian cantata on the life of Harriet Tubman.

6. A political argument boils down as someone says,
“Boy, they play a lot of Pixies in here.”

7. The cars, the buildings, the school hallways,
even the mockingbirds go
“wee oo wee oo weet, wee oo wee oo weet…”

8. On a date, my wife and I pay a dollar a second
to a busker whose steel guitar wafts up the stairs
and out from the Regional Rail.

9. The club behind our house (and I do mean RIGHT
behind our house) makes our 3am bones ache to
comply with the instructions of R&B line dances.

10. My first memory (age 2): families lay on the floor
in the middle of Wanamaker’s (now Macy’s) watching
the Christmas light show accompanied by a store-sized
pipe organ that rivals the one in Arcade Fire’s

11. Speeches from shop-front speakers:
our most remixed President.

12. A bus full of kids on the way to the skating rink
sprouts, then blooms, then becomes full blown
“All the Single Ladies” sing along, complete with moves.
(Fadeout in whoh-oh-oh…)


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