April 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
– Alan Riddell
This is a found poem from a Latin textbook. I saw. I came. I consumed.
December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
– W. S. Merwin
Love lost is not so much about feeling incomplete; rather, it is about learning to be complete in a new way, to weave one’s existence into new tapestries using old threads.
July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
Perdita, once I called, Perdita, twice I called.
Pretty as paint and as cool as an icicle,
Shall I tell how we met under fortunate auspices?
Presuming a bottle of Spanish Don Horsepiss is
Fortunate… This is not one of my coarse pieces,
Syllables shimmy as sonnets assemble
Themselves in a shadowless summer a-tremble —
A ten-guinea ticket for Merton Commem Ball
With Perdita Simmons.
Daddy’s a saurian Cambridge historian.
Mummy’s more chummy. She’s tweedy and Tory and
Hunts and what-have-you. So very Victorian
Is Perdita Simmons.
Thus Mainwaring, tall dark and rich, with a glance as much
As to say, My dear boy, I don’t fancy your chances much
I know Perdie of old, and she doesn’t like dances much,
Doesn’t Perdita Simmons.
Perdita’s hair ruffles fairer and tanglier,
Perdita’s grin makes my ganglia janglia,
Perdita’s uncle owns half of East Anglia,
All for Perdita Simmons.
Mainwaring’s plan is for getting a leg over;
Wait till she’s plastered (the bastard!), then beg of her.
No go. (Ho-ho!) Now his face has got egg over.
From Perdita Simmons.
Oh, how spiffing! (She talks like a school-story serial,
While my lexical style is down-market and beery.) All
Love is insane and remote and ethereal
And Perdita Simmons.
As we’re pounding the ground in a last hokey-cokey, dawn
Fingers to constables, hauling of chokey-borne
Mainwaring, pissed as a rat on the croquet lawn.
Sweet Perdita Simmons.
Half-asleep, climbing from Headington Hill, at the crest of it
Sickle moon, scatter of stars and the rest of it,
In my hand one small hand (and this is the best of it)
Of Perdita Simmons.
Perdita murmurs, You’ll do for a poet.
And kisses me carefully twice, just to show it.
Nobody knows what love is. But I know it.
It’s Perdita Simmons.
– John Whitworth
Pretty Perdita thwomps menacing Mainwaring with an egg, dances until dawn, then gets whisked away by a poet-narrator who decorates his tale with triple rhymes and a meter that is very much like a wave of the sea. The three characters may have their own love triangle, but my favorite ménage à trois is the trifecta of auspices, Horsepiss is and coarse pieces from a poem stuffed with inventive rhymes.
March 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
Shedding an Anglo-Jackson Shade,
Shall we ever, my staunch Myfanwy,
Bicycle down to North Parade?
Kant on the handle-bars, Marx in the saddlebag,
Light my touch on your shoulder-blade.
Sancta Hilda, Myfanwyatia
Evansensis — I hold your heart,
Willowy banks of a willowy Cherwell a
Willowy figure with lips apart,
Strong and willowy, strong to pillow me
Gold Myfanwy, kisses and art.
Tubular bells of tall St. Barnabas,
Single clatter above St. Paul,
Chasuble, acolyte, incense-offering,
Spectacled faces held in thrall.
There in the nimbus and Comper tracery
Gold Myfanwy blesses us all.
Gleam of gas upon Oxford station,
Gleam of gas on her straight gold hair,
Hair flung back with an ostentation,
Waiting alone for a girl friend there.
Second in Mods and a Third in Theology
Come to breathe again Oxford air.
Her Myfanwy as in Cadena days,
Her Myfanwy, a schoolgirl voice,
Tentative brush of a cheek in a cocoa crush,
Coffee and Ulysses, Tennyson, Joyce,
Alpha-minded and other dimensional,
Freud or Calvary? Take your choice.
Her Myfanwy? My Myfanwy.
Bicycle bells in a Boar’s Hill Pine,
Stedman Triple from All Saints’ steeple,
Tom and his hundred and one at nine,
Bells of Butterfield, caught in Keble,
Sally and backstroke answer “Mine!”
– John Betjeman
“Myfanwy at Oxford” chimes with the people and places of a halcyon era. Always a name-dropper, Betjeman invites Freud and Kant and Tennyson and Joyce to swing through the sunshine on the lap of a golden girl bicycling through the campus grounds. The sonic joy of the landscapes whooshing past (“Bells of Butterfield, caught in Keble”) must match the joy in the poet’s fluttering heart. That Betjeman’s love for Piper was ultimately unrequited (she would become a notable art critic and marry another man) makes the poem that much more poignant, a schoolboy’s dream suspended in amber.
February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying —
Lady, make a note of this
One of you is lying.
– Dorothy Parker
Parker was a master of the surprise ending, and here, after four lines of Harlequin romance fluff, she deflates love’s bloated promises with the pointed wit of the last line.