The lizards are out in my neighborhood—on footpaths, sidewalks and in the garage. I kind of like them—the way they scurry to and fro…
From Professor Wikipedia I have learned that “many lizards have highly acute color vision. Most lizards rely heavily on body language, using specific postures, gestures, and movements to define territory, resolve disputes, and entice mates.”
Now I watch my lizards more closely to see what they are up to. Mine are, of course, not so brightly defined as the Jackson’s chameleon. They are only little brown squamatereptiles yet they are no less charming.
But sitting here the afternoon, I’ve come to believe we do share a love affair and a belief — in wink, blink, stone,
“Sophomores” by Meghan O’Rourke
W.W. Norton & Company, 2007
It’s America, 1993, and the malls
are cool and clean. Don’t you know,
like me, no one gets out alive.
For my last “Poetry at the Post” this cycle, I decided—after 18 worldwide poets— to return home with a writer who has ties to this part of Texas.
I read O’Rourke’s Halftime several years ago and several of the poems touched me deeply. Yesterday afternoon, while dusting (so much endless dusting in the desert…) and rearranging books, I rediscovered Halflife. I flipped through it at random and settled on “Sophomores.”
As we know, a poet’s poem becomes something else in the hands of each reader. Shaped by personal experiences, we see things in them that perhaps were never meant to be.
Last fall, I spent a few months living in Medellin,Colombia in a high rise apartment within walking distance of an upscale mall. It was super: swank pool, tropical landscape and two large patios with views of the Andes and the city below. However, if I just wanted to step out for a walk and grab a bite to eat, pick up some milk, etc. I had to go to the mall.
The little I knew before hand about Medellin did not prepare me for the locals’ love of Malls. Everything is in the malls, including the supermarkets.
“Weren’t you scared in Colombia?” I’m often asked. Not necessarily but I was careful. However, I did have a fear that I would never “get out of the malls.”
Of course, O’Rourke’s poetry is so much more than malls and my musings on my past.
My favorite line from “Sophomores” is “I’m the princess with a hole in my heart.” I’ve felt like that before. Perhaps not a princess, but a woman with a “hole in her heart.”
I look forward to reading O’Rourke’s newest book The Long Goodbye, A Memoir.
“Five Matryoskas”by Gennady Aygi, as translated by Sarah Valentine
3 with an idea
You surround us
as with silk
When I was a child I had a set of Russian Matryoshka Dolls. I’m not sure who gave them to me, or whatever happened to them but I used to love playing with these wooden dolls, nesting and un-nesting them. Who knows? Perhaps these little dolls were the spark that guided me to major in Russian.
“Gennady Aygi (1934-2006) is widely considered to be one of the great avant-garde poets from the former Soviet Union.” The starkness of his poetry attracts me. In “Five Matryoshkas, a poem inspired by the birth of Aygi’s son, we begin in the center of the nest and move outward—in a series of five fragmentary moments. Each section is like each doll in itself—complete.
Here’s a video of Sarah Valentine reading a selection of Aygi’s poems:
Into The Snow, Selected Poems of Gennady Aygi, Translated by Sarah Valentine, Wave Books, 2011
“Thus Bare Shoulder’d” by Gülseli İnal, as translated by Sebnem Susam
Pale and forgetful I was
returning from the lands of rain on my wings raindrops… which had fought with Zephyr
Yes, I am dreaming about rain in the hot desert and in this poem I found myself in the middle of a myth, a dream, the fairies. I could sense the wind—from the west, the raindrops. I felt the magic, the story.
…be it yours
these crystal fingers thus bare shoulder’d be it yours this this rose-
“On weakened legs I walked around the town the whole day. I took photographs” by Katerina Iliopoulou, as translated by John O’Kane
The Hungarian photographer André Kertész with his walking (during thirty years) wore out the network of streets of at least three cities. Eighty-five now, confined (by grief) to his apartment…
Katerina Iliopoulou is a poet, artist and translator, who lives and works in Athens.
What I like this poem is the convergence of so many places that have personal meaning. The stream of images leading to an unexpected ending is quite wonderful too.
In Paris he photographed himself double closing his eyes and a crumpled half-opened white door reflecting in the mirror.