The Truth About Poetry
The Truth of the Higgs Boson
We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry….—Niels Bohr
Since the sun is god,
there’s only starlight and a woman, somewhere in the forest, running
hair through her loom, crafting a rag that will prove itself to tears.
This Is Just To Say
after two poems about plums by William Carlos Williams
What happened seemed
like ripe plums from the icebox
not yet forbidden but
in need of forgiveness,
just turned, too
sweet, already fermenting.
seemed bad to her.
This is just to say.
What happened seemed
bad to her.
What happened seemed bad
to her. Someone said it was
not that bad
and she tasted what that meant,
so delicious, such solace,
and kept quiet.
I want to go to Kansas City.
In all my long life, I’ve never met anyone
who’s actually been there.
It makes me wonder if Kansas City really exists.
I’ve read Ernest Hemingway
was born there in 1800 something
and that he wrote for the city’s newspaper,
The Kansas City Star.
But does anyone really believe that?
I mean, who names a newspaper The Star?
I say it’s all just the stuff of imagination,
the fabric of poetry, like Valhalla or Parnassus.
As a teenager, I heard the poet on the radio
longing to stand on 12th Street and Vine.
His song was so sad—
I knew he’d never go to Kansas City.
I knew he’d never find a crazy little woman
who’d love him with all his problems.
As for me, I can’t say exactly how I’m going
to get there. I might take a train.
I might take a plane. But even if I have to walk,
well, just the same, even with these old legs, I’m going.
I mean it. I’m really going to go to Kansas City.
I know it may be a rich, farfetched dream,
that such things don’t happen
or ever come true,
but think about it—
Even the Beatles wanted to go there.
I am a minus sign, a horizon of ink. I am a tabletop with the legs knocked out, a levitating dime in profile. I am the spine of a thin collection of poems. I am half of an equals sign, an underscore for emptiness. I am a pen full of love letters lying by the bed. Too long to be a hyphen, too short to cause a pause — I am a trapeze handle with no girl attached, a single rung on the ladder towards God, the sill of the window I’m standing on.
Lincoln Service, Late December
Below me, beneath train and tracks, the park is empty except
for the boys, brothers maybe, a week into Christmas break,
standing together in the middle of the basketball court. Their shadows
stretch across the green asphalt. The ball collects streetlight
where it hangs in mid-bounce. They have left a house somewhere
in the dark of the neighborhood behind them, bright and hot
with the aunts and cousins who won’t go home until the new year,
their mother drinking wine and laughing too loud, no one noticing
they are gone. Tonight is one of the in-between nights, a lag
in the year’s steady unspooling, and they are untroubled
by its widening margins, coatless and illuminated in the lull
of the second I can see them. Then the train slips by and maybe
I am the only one seeing them, my cheek resting on the window,
looking past my reflection at the city rolling in. I don’t know yet
what this poem is for, if it is because I want to become like them,
golden and still, suspended in one long moment before everything
happens, or if it is because I’m only myself, girl on a train
she can’t get off. I know it is not for the boys, who do not even
imagine being seen, who tip the ball up and away, chase it down
the court, shoot basket after hushed basket through the hoop
with no net. They do not need any poetry but that.