Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Poetry in Flight



I read this poem in The New Yorker, while I flew over Seattle the other day. Instead of leaving the issue in the back of the seat in front of me, I took it home to savor. Read it, read it again and then read it aloud.

Varieties of Cool

A friend had a friend who winked us past rope lines,
we were enskyed for one night in hipness

it was boring

the champagne tasted no better than wonderful

the music was the same lobotomy of thump
that had been playing for years as dissent
from our Puritan roots

then we freed ourselves in a cab, something yellow
that wasn't a flower but wanted to be, sang
"Homeward Bound" passably to be happy about melancholy
and teach the driver from Sri Lanka a thing or two
about the American wistfulness for home
all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge
and walked across the night and water
that I got down on my belly and said hello to
through the wooden slats

in Brooklyn Heights we ate grapes and waved
at the effort by the various Carnegies
and Seagrams to live forever, my friend had a cough
that became an acronym, I sat beside his missing
a man with my missing a woman in front of homes
we knew from movies but appeared less famous
than cozy at four in the morning as we tried
to decide which house wanted to adopt us

I couldn't get over the grapes

he said, That's New York, you can get anything 
as long as it's not what you really need

he didn't say that

I'm confusing him with Mick Jagger and this poem
with a novel, he said something and I did
back and forth, it was quiet and that's how
conversation works, the grapes were good
and the night air had no idea how bad
his cough would get, I am grateful
that, on balance, the absence of stars
in Manhattan is offset by the number of lights
there's no reason to leave on but people do.

Bob Hicok




9 comments:

  1. Oh, my.

    That is spectacular.

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  2. Amazing! The taste of each passing moment is bitter sweet! What a drama for the senses!

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  3. I read that poem in the magazine with attention. It had everything, didn't it? Yeah, a novel. Right there.

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  4. Beautiful, especially because it mentions one of my favourite S&G songs, "Homeward Bound". :-) Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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  5. whoa. must read again and again.

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  6. Wow! That week of respite just keeps on giving, doesn't it?

    You know, I have said for years that I don't 'do' poetry, but you're converting me. Thank you.

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  7. And the grapes are so good right now ... I can't get over the grapes
    I love that S and G song - now it is happily in my melancholy head

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  8. I wish he - the author - were my friend, or at least a neighbor. Does that ever happen to you? I read something wonderful and it leaves me with this ache of wanting.

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