The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday

By Michael Ryan

Torment by appetite
is itself an appetite
dulled by inarticulate,
dogged, daily

loving-others-to-death --
as Chekhov put it, "compassion
down to your fingertips" --
looking on them as into the sun

not in the least for their sake
but slowly for your own
because it causes
the blinded soul to bloom

like deliciousness in dirt,
like beauty from hurt,
their light -- their light --
pulls so surely. Let it.


From last Sunday's Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in The Washington Post, to which I neglected to link when it came out because it was Easter. Michael Ryan, says Hirsch, "estranges reality and ruthlessly questions himself." This whole column gave me chills -- not just the poem above, which I could apply far too easily to the lure of celebrity fandom, but this:
One of Ryan's best poems, "Not the End of the World," tells the story of a bird that flies down the chimney into the cold stove in his study. He scoops up the dull creature, carries it outside and leaves it in the dirt. The helpless bird is swiftly surrounded by a group of identical birds, mounting its back and pecking its body. The speaker can't tell if they are trying to rouse or kill it, but he rationalizes that picking it up would probably finish it off. He returns to his study but can't shake off a deeply ominous feeling.

         Do I need to say I was away
         for all of a minute
         before I went back to it?
         But the bird was gone.
         All the birds were gone,
         and the circle they had made
         now made a space so desolate
         that for one moment I saw
         the dead planet.

It's gray and drizzly without actually raining. I suppose I should consider this a good thing, as it must be better for my allergies than days of sunshine, but I am having something of a longing for either clear skies or a real storm. It's just gross enough that I don't really feel like taking a walk outside, even though I always exercise better and longer when it's outdoors.

I have lunch plans for the next two days so must get work done today. Am hoping to have time to start Desolation Island around all that. I'm tired and demoralized from Dubya's speech (repeated three times during the Q&A, as his response to pointed questions seemed to be to recite lines from the lecture all over again, in the same tone of voice).

Is this month really almost halfway over? Ah well, apaulled finished our taxes, and that's what matters for tomorrow, right?

Happy birthday evildrem! And thank you for everything! I am seeing beeej tomorrow and will receive goodies then! Also, happy birthday machiavellian!

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