The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

The poet has come back...
By Margaret Atwood

The poet has come back to being a poet
after decades of being virtuous instead.

Can't you he both?
No. Not in public.

You could, once,
back when God was still thundering vengeance

and liked the scent of blood,
and hadn't got around to slippery forgiveness.

Then you could scatter incense and praise,
and wear your snake necklace,

and hymn the crushed skulls of your enemies
to a pious chorus.

No deferential smiling, no baking of cookies,
no I'm a nice person really.

Welcome back, my dear.
Time to resume our vigil,

time to unlock the cellar door,
time to remind ourselves

that the god of poets has two hands:
the dextrous, the sinister.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, in which Robert Pinsky explains that in addition to being a distinguished novelist, Atwood "is also a terrific poet. She even writes memorable poems about being a poet," such as the one above, "a sharp reminder that poetry is not merely good thoughts well expressed...emphasizing how much is at stake in true poetry, Atwood disdains genial reassurance. Her candid, funny, unsparing account of the art demonstrates its humanity."

After Daniel got back from Hebrew school, he and Adam decided to go to their friend Omar's house for the afternoon, leaving apaulled and myself free. So we went to see American Gangster, which was so much better than I was expecting...I love pretty much everyone in the cast, especially Russell and Denzel, but I usually hate gangster movies with a passion. I loved this one. It helped that there were two female characters I really appreciated, and not one of the reviews I read had mentioned that Russell's character was Jewish -- I found it far hotter than I should have to see him wearing a Star of David.

I also hadn't read anywhere, though apparently my husband had, the manner in which Frank Lucas brought the heroin into the US...I was thinking it was swallowed in bags by live soldiers or something. When I caught on, those returning coffins were incredibly creepy. The look of the entire film, the Harlem settings and the New Jersey slums, made such an interesting juxtaposition not only with Lucas' opulent house but with the most beautiful scenes in the movie -- the poppy fields. How odd to see America portrayed as the place of butchery where not even children are safe and Vietnam as the seemingly calm, natural place where kids run laughing through the flowers.

There was some interesting stuff going on as well about family, where the gangster with family loyalties earns our admiration more quickly than the cop who cheats on his wife and neglects his son. As usual I think the gangsters were far too idealized, and although I was grateful Ridley Scott didn't make the movie nearly as bloody as he could have -- it wasn't even as bloody as Gladiator -- I think it made Frank more likable than is fair, with the tradeoff being that the bloodiest, most disgusting scenes in the entire film were the junkies shooting up (and very much blamed for their own addictions). I really liked Frank's mom telling him off (and slapping him!) and Richie's wife pointing out that his ethics as a cop are in direct contrast to his ethics as a husband.

We picked up pizza after picking up the kids, and then after dinner we found Independence Day on cable. I haven't seen this movie since some time just after 9/11 when it was hard to watch -- New York blasted apart -- and was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it, especially with the kids who never saw it. I am always surprised at how sophisticated their knowledge of politics is; I grew up in the middle of the Watergate era and the end of the Vietnam War and didn't know nearly as much at least until high school. And I love this movie's cast too -- Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith, Mary McDonnell, Brent Spiner, Vivica Fox, Harry Connick Jr., Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, Harvey Fierstein, Adam Baldwin! And I don't care if Bill Pullman was the president; a black guy and a Jewish guy saved the world.

Memorial to the Confederate Dead in downtown Portsmouth, Virginia.

We were going to climb Catoctin with my in-laws on Sunday, but apaulled and his mother are both still recovering from the flu, so I'm not sure what we're doing yet. Something outdoors since the weather is supposed to be nice, I hope. Happy Veterans Day/Armistice Day/Remembrance Day if you live someplace that celebrates.

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