Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thirteen Ways of Playing the Dozens

If you know my work, you know there's a couple of poems where I have beef with Wallace Stevens (Monday Poem, The Idea of Improvisation), there are several reasons for this, but at least one of them is that I'm not a big fan of his work. I respect his technical facility and ear, but all that 'jerking the poem to the left until it turns on itself' bullshit gets annoying after a while. He's also one of the few major American poets who was openly racist in his work (he titled one poem 'Like Decorations in a Nigger Cemetery') Anyway, I don't get mad, I get even, this is my riff on his famous Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird


(This poem is of one mind,
like a crayon box
in which there are
twelve blues.)

Anyway here's the piece:


TWELVE WAYS OF LISTENING TO THE BLUES

1
Along the guitar's six strings,
The only moving thing
Is the hand of the Blues.

2
I am of two minds,
Like a blues
Which makes you laugh,
Then cry.

3
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and the Blues
Are one.

4
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inhalations
Or the beauty of exhalations,
The Blues harmonica moans.

5
Bottles line the long bar

With exquisite glass.
The spirit of the Blues

Fills them, bottom to top.
The sound casts
Intoxicating spells.

6
O Snowmen of Hartford,
Why do you imagine blackbirds?
Do you not see how the Blues
Caress the collarbones
Of the women around you?

7
I know sassy women
And joyous, laughing rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the Blues is involved
In what I know.

8
When the Blues flow out of earshot,
They cause a rising tide
in many rivers.

9
At the sound of the Blues
In a district of red light,
Even violinists of the symphony
Would smile openly.

10

He rode through Mississippi
In a boxcar.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The moan of a passing train
For the Blues.

11
A bad moon is rising.
The Blues must be playing.

12
It was midnight all evening.
It was raining
And it was going to rain.
The Blues colored
The clouds.
Post a Comment