Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The reason I write poetry

This poem popped up again in my Literary Analysis class. I understand it so much better than I had when I first read it 5 or 6 years ago. It is probably one of my favorite poems.

You Can Have it by Phillip Levine

My brother comes home from work
and climbs the stairs to our room.
I can hear the bed groan and his shoes drop
one by one. You can have it, he says.

The moonlight streams in the window
and his unshaven face is whitened
like the face of the moon. He will sleep
long after noon and waken to find me gone.

Thirty years will pass before I remember
that moment when suddenly I knew each man
has one brother who dies when he sleeps
and sleeps when he rises to face this life,

and that together they are only one man
sharing a heart that always labours, hands
yellowed and cracked, a mouth that gasps
for breath and asks, Am I gonna make it?

All night at the ice plant he had fed
the chute its silvery blocks, and then I
stacked cases of orange soda for the children
of Kentucky, one gray boxcar at a time

with always two more waiting. We were twenty
for such a short time and always in
the wrong clothes, crusted with dirt
and sweat. I think now we were never twenty.

In 1948 the city of Detroit, founded
by de la Mothe Cadillac for the distant purposes
of Henry Ford, no one wakened or died,
no one walked the streets or stoked a furnace,

for there was no such year, and now
that year has fallen off all the old newspapers,
calendars, doctors' appointments, bonds
wedding certificates, drivers licenses.

The city slept. The snow turned to ice.
The ice to standing pools or rivers
racing in the gutters. Then the bright grass rose
between the thousands of cracked squares,

and that grass died. I give you back 1948.
I give you all the years from then
to the coming one. Give me back the moon
with its frail light falling across a face.

Give me back my young brother, hard
and furious, with wide shoulders and a curse
for God and burning eyes that look upon
all creation and say, You can have it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Read it and weep (or not)

Oh no
No more
Come on
I do all I can
I do all I can
And when I can’t that just means
I have nothing left to give
To you or anyone
No more begging
No more pleading with your eyes
Grasping wrists
No more trying to pull my eyeballs
Out of my head
No one I love ever pleads
No one I love ever tugs my wrists
Ot tries to bend the pipe cleaner
Of my heart
No one I love bothers to call
They make pacts with the devil
They click their spurs down highway 61
They scream and they spit blood cum
But no one I love ever comes
When I call their name
When I drag my body toward mirrors
Rearrange the lipstick and outline
The eyes in kohl
And try to impress
In the wrong dress
A funeral dirge rings
The bells of my ears
I am always teetering halfway
Between hell and high water
I am always expecting the worst
When I turn around
Half expecting that you won’t be
There anymore
There are songs I sing with my heart
The pull of my face against concrete
The slip and slide of my thin skin
Breaks blood on pavement
My fragile skull snaps off the chicken bone
Of my neck
You know, you do all this to me, lover
You do all of this so carelessly
As if you spilled milk
As if someone else is there behind you
A nurse maid or a janitor
To clean the mess of me up.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Russian Prison Tattoos and whatnot

I am curious about Russian prison tattoos. I like them very much and am also scared of them. Such is the way with most things I like. I am almost always simultaneously enamored and terrified.
In other news:
I am back at college trying to earn my bachelors in English. I am taking a required botany class and also English 301-Literary Analysis and Critical Theory. I am overwhelmed as I work full-time in retail purgatory. All is well. I have no real complaints.
My prayers go out to Annie Le and her fiancee' and family. I work at a retail store on the Yale Campus so this atrocity hit close to home.
Zoe A.