Poem a day #12 Middle

Middle

Is the no-regrets choice:
not too big for something
you might not like
not too small if what is new
is very good.

Is stable:
not the risk-taking
of the secure first child, not
the attention-seeking
of the clinging youngest.

Is reliable:
won’t be the first,
won’t be the last,
will just keep on keepin’ on

Is predictable:
always –er,
never –est

Grew up invisible in a culture
where fries and cokes
came only in small or large.

But now Middle
has Starbucks.

Now Middle
can strut her stuff.

Grandé is a favorite size
Grandé is a heart’s delight

Grandé goes to clubs
that don’t open till 11
dressed so fine that
-er is on no one’s mind.

Grandé always thought
that tall was small.

And Grandé knows
that no one knows
what Venti means,
anyway

Philadelphia Cunt (revised)

Philadelphia Cunt
(1.3)

Andorra Cunt
Bridesburg Cunt
Bush Hill Cunt
Brewerytown Cunt
Fishtown Cunt
Nicetown Cunt
Callowhill Cunt
Crefeld Cunt
Cobbs Creek Cunt
Cresheim Cunt

Center City Cunt
Logan Circle Cunt
Old City Cunt
Tourist Cunt:
Liberty Bell Cunt
Franklin Court Cunt
Ducks Tour Cunt
Rocky Statue Cunt
Love Statue Cunt
Independence Mall Cunt
Nation’s Oldest Zoo Cunt
Big Rusty Clothespin Cunt

Chestnut Cunt
Walnut Cunt
Spruce Cunt
Pine Cunt
Market Cunt
Cherry Cunt
Arch Cunt
Vine Cunt

Broad Street Cunt
South Philly Cunt
North Philly Cunt
West Philly Cunt
Northwest Cunt
Northeast Cunt

Mainline Cunt:
Bala Cynwyd Cunt
Bryn Mawr Cunt
Gladwyn Cunt
Ardmore Cunt
Haverford Cunt
Baldwin Prep Cunt
Rosemont Cunt
St. Joseph’s Cunt

Conshohocken Cunt
Connawingo Cunt
King of Prussia Cunt
Manayunk Cunt
Moyamensing Cunt
Passyunk Cunt
Pennypack Cunt
Poetguessing Cunt
Schuykill Cunt
(Sure-kill Cunt)
Tulpehoken Cunt
Wissahickon Cunt
Wissinoming Cunt

Kensington Cunt
Mechanicsville Cunt
Ninth & Lehigh Cunt
Ogontz Cunt
Oxford Circle Cunt
Powelton Village Cunt
Queen Village Cunt
Rittenhouse Cunt
Saint Martin’s Cunt
Spring Garden Cunt
Spruce Hill Cunt
Squirrel Hill Cunt
Strawberry Mansion Cunt
Tacony Palmyra Cunt
University City Cunt

Cornerstore Cunt
Diner Cunt
Traffic Circle Cunt
Dogleg Cunt
Mummer Cunt
Philadelphia Lawyer Cunt
Christ Church Cunt
AFSC Cunt
Painted Bride Cunt
Italian Market Cunt
Reading Terminal Cunt
Flower Show Cunt
Kimmel Center Cunt
National Constitution Center Cunt
Please Touch Museum Cunt
City of Brotherly Love Cunt

Amish Cunt
Catholic Cunt
Jewish Cunt
Quaker Cunt
Main Line Presbyterian Cunt

Cheese Steak Cunt:
Chubby’s Cunt
D’Alessandro’s Cunt
Pat’s Cunt
Geno’s Cunt
Jim’s Cunt
Cheez Whiz Cunt
Scrapple Cunt
Hoagie Cunt
Water Ice Cunt
Soft Pretzel Cunt
Naked Chocolate Cunt
Black Cherry Wishniak Cunt
Tastykake Cunt
Butterscotch Krimpet Cunt
Pignoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt

Philadelphia Cunt

I was at a writing workshop yesterday called “Fatty Girls, Imaginary Cocks, and Vaginas Like Bookstores” at the Split This Rock poetry festival. I think I’ll have several new poems coming out of their writing prompts. Here’s the first, as I wrote it in the workshop, all associate, sound-based flow of ideas. Look for rewrites soon. And—Yo, Philly friends—if I’m missing something significant, let me know!

Philadelphia Cunt

Conshohocken Cunt
Connawingo Cunt
Schuykill Cunt
Sure-kill Cunt
Cynwyd Cunt
Bryn Mawr Cunt
Tulpehoken Cunt
McCallum Cunt
Mount Airy Cunt
Chestnut Hill Cunt
Chestnut Cunt
Walnut Cunt
Spruce Cunt
Pine Cunt
Market Cunt
Cherry Cunt
Arch Cunt
Vine Cunt
Broad Cunt
Catherine Cunt
Delaware Cunt
Columbus Cunt
Cornerstore Cunt
Chubby’s Cunt
Cheese Steak Cunt
Scrapple Cunt
Hoagie Cunt
Water Ice Cunt
Pignoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt
Cannoli Cunt

But he could not stretch her spey, her spey, he could not stretch her spey

A slightly late International Women’s Day post – lest we forget that we are never the first generation of women to resist, to make our resistance public, and to celebrate it. This has been recorded by many of my favorite singers – Alix Dobkin, Peggy Seeger, and Karan Casey, whose version you can hear here.

Now go resist! And then sing about it!

Eppie Morrie

(Trad Arr. Karan Casey/John Doyle)

Four-and-twenty Highland men
Came from the Carron side
To steal away Eppie Morrie
Cause she wouldn’t be a bride, a bride
She wouldn’t be a bride

Then out it’s came her mother then
It was a moonlit night
She couldn’t see her daughter
For the moon it shone so bright, so bright
The moon it shone so bright

They’ve taken Eppie Morrie
And a horse they’ve bound her on
And they’re away to Carron side
As fast as horse could gang, could gang
As fast as horse could gang

And Willie’s taken his pistol out
And put it to the minister’s breast
O marry me, marry me, minister
Or else I’ll be your priest, your priest
Or else I’ll be your priest

Haud away from me, Willie
Haud away from me
There’s not a man in all Strathdon
Shall wedded be by me, by me
Shall wedded be by me

Then mass was sung and bells were rung
And they’re away to bed
And Willie and Eppie Morrie
In one bed they were laid, were laid
In one bed they were laid

He’s taken the shirt from off his back
And kicked away his shoes
And thrown away the chamber key
And naked he lay down, lay down
And naked he lay down

He’s kissed her on the lily breast
And held her shoulders twa
But aye she gat and aye she spat
And turned to the wa’, the wa’
And turned to the wa’

They wrestled there all through the night
Before the break of day
But aye she gat and aye she spat
But he could not stretch her spey,
He could not stretch her spey

Haud away from me, Willie,
Haud away from me
There’s not a man in all Strathdon
Shall wedded be by me, by me
Shall wedded be by me

Then early in the morning
Before the light of day
In came the maid of Scallater
In gown and shirt alone, alone
In a gown and shirt alone

Get up, get up, young woman
And take a drink with me
You might have called me maiden
For I’m as whole as thee, as thee
For I’m as whole as thee.

Then in there came young Breadalbane
With a pistol on his side
O, come away, Eppie Morrie
And I’ll make you my bride, my bride
And l’ll make you my bride

Go get to me a horse, Willie
Get it like a man
And send me back to my mother
A maiden as I came, I came
A maiden as I came

Haud away from me, Willie
Haud away from me
There’s not a man in all Strathdon
Shall wedded be by me, by me
Shall wedded be with me

Haud away from me, Willie
Haud away from me
There’s not a man in all Strathdon
Shall wedded be by me, by me
Shall wedded be by me

Well, damn, it’s a relief to be a slut

Marilyn Hacker, from Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons. Sonnets can be damn fun, oh yes they can.

Well, damn, it’s a relief to be a slut
after such lengths of “Man delights not me,
nor woman neither,” that I honestly
wondered if I’d outgrown it. Chocolate
or wine, a cashmere scarf, a cigarette,
had more to do with sensuality
than what’s between my belly and my butt
that yearns toward you now unabashedly.
I’d love to grip your head between my thighs
while yours tense toward your moment on my ears,
but I’ll still be thankful for this surprise
if things turn out entirely otherwise,
and we’re bar buddies who, in a few years,
will giggle about this after two beers.

How does a poem mean?

from Chapter One, John Ciardi, How Does a Poem Mean?

For “what does a poem mean?” is too often a self-destroying approach to poetry. A more useful way of asking the question is “how does the poem mean?” Why does it build itself into a form out of images, ideas, rhythms? How do these elements become the meaning? How are they inseparable from the meaning? As Yeats wrote:

O body swayed to music, o quickening glance,
How shall I I tell the dancer from the dance?

What the poem is, is inseparable from its own performance of itself. The dance is the dancer and the dancer is the dance. Or put in another way: where is the “dance” when no one is dancing it? and what man [sic] is a “dancer” except when he is dancing?

[…]

So for poetry. The concern is not to arrive at a definition and to close the book, but to arrive at an experience. There will never be a complete system for “understanding” or for “judging” poetry. Understanding and critical judgment are admirable goals, but neither can take place until the poem has been experienced, and even then there is always some part of every good work of art that can never be fully explained or categorized.

[…]

Any teaching of the poem by any other method owes the poem an apology. What greater violence can be done to the poet’s experience than to drag it into an early morning classroom and to go after it as an item on its way to a Final Examination? The apology must at least be made. It is the experience, not the Final Examination, that counts.

study the masters

study the masters
Lucille Clifton

like my aunt timmie.
it was her iron,
or one like hers,
that smoothed the sheets
the master poet slept on.
home or hotel, what matters is
he lay himself down on her handiwork
and dreamed. she dreamed too, words:
some cherokee, some masai and some
huge and particular as hope.
if you had heard her
chanting as she ironed
you would understand form and line
and discipline and order and
america.

on poems suspicious of meaning

from “Association in Poetry” by Carl Phillps in his essay collection The Coin of the Realm. Emphasis is mine.

Part of the point in the associative poem is that the reader should be unsettled, should not know at first what to make of what has been read. As poets, when we liken X to Y—unless we are resorting to cliche—we are presumably the first to have made such a connection. Which means it may not be immediately intelligible to the reader—but it should be eventually accessible. Otherwise, we are guilty of a self-indulgence that, it seems to me, mars much contemporary American poetry, producing work that calls itself oblique or mysterious or vatic, when in fact it is merely obfuscated, not very well thought-out, is suspicious of meaning, and privileges the arty over art itself. However, when applied successfully, the associative method makes for a poetry that demands—both of poet and reader—that the mind be athletic, not just able to negotiate the leaps, but able to find in such leaps restorative vigor that is among the pleasures of reading great poetry.

Sonnet

Sonnet
Terrance Hayes
from Hip Logic

We sliced the watermelon into smiles.
We sliced the watermelon into smiles.
We sliced the watermelon into smiles.
We sliced the watermelon into smiles.

We sliced the watermelon into smiles.
We sliced the watermelon into smiles.
We sliced the watermelon into smiles.
We sliced the watermelon into smiles.

We sliced the watermelon into smiles.
We sliced the watermelon into smiles.
We sliced the watermelon into smiles.
We sliced the watermelon into smiles.

We sliced the watermelon into smiles.
We sliced the watermelon into smiles.