The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

Ginza Samba
By Robert Pinsky

A monosyllabic European called Sax
Invents a horn, walla whirledy wah, a kind of twisted
Brazen clarinet, but with its column of vibrating
Air shaped not in a cylinder but in a cone
Widening ever outward and bawaah spouting
Infinitely upward through an upturned
Swollen golden bell rimmed
Like a gloxinia flowering
In Sax's Belgian imagination

And in the unfathomable matrix
Of mothers and fathers as a genius graven
Humming into the cells of the body
Or cupped in the resonating grail
Of memory changed and exchanged
As in the trading of brasses,
Pearls and ivory, calicos and slaves,
Laborers and girls, two

Cousins in a royal family
Of Niger known as the Birds or Hawks.
In Christendom one cousin's child
Becomes a "favorite negro" ennobled
By decree of the Czar and founds
A great family, a line of generals,
Dandies and courtiers including the poet
Pushkin, killed in a duel concerning
His wife's honor, while the other cousin sails

In the belly of a slaveship to the port
Of Baltimore where she is raped
And dies in childbirth, but the infant
Will marry a Seminole and in the next
Chorus of time their child fathers
A great Hawk or Bird, with many followers
Among them this great-grandchild of the Jewish
Manager of a Pushkin estate, blowing

His American breath out into the wiggly
Tune uncurling its triplets and sixteenths--the Ginza
Samba of breath and brass, the reed
Vibrating as a valve, the aether, the unimaginable
Wires and circuits of an ingenious box
Here in my room in this house built
A hundred years ago while I was elsewhere:

It is like falling in love, the atavistic
Imperative of some one
Voice or face--the skill, the copper filament,
The golden bellful of notes twirling through
Their invisible element from
Rio to Tokyo and back again gathering
Speed in the variations as they tunnel
The twin haunted labyrinths of stirrup
And anvil echoing here in the hearkening
Instrument of my skull.


"For a little more than three years now, we've handed this space over to Robert Pinsky, a poet who is often called 'poetry's rock star' for his passionate conviction that this highest of literary arts should be loved by the most ordinary of people," noted the Book World staff at the end of Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "As a U.S. Poet Laureate, as a professor at Boston University, and as author or editor of 19 books, Pinsky has tirelessly promoted the craft and the work of his fellow poets. And here, in Book World, in more than 150 columns, he has combined his prodigious knowledge with a sharp eye for emerging talent. We thank him for a splendid run."

Adam has finished working out his schedule for next year (he's taking Chinese), parents are home from Mexico, living room is reorganized after inheriting parents' stereo cabinet and Daniel's room is almost -- almost -- reorganized after old stereo cabinet was moved up there. (Cleaning older son's room is an experience in terror; he had four-year-old slippers and Halloween candy from god knows when hidden in a big pile of stuffed animals -- at least the candy was all wrapped but it was never allowed to be upstairs in the first place.) And yeah, you can tell what an exciting day I had, so have some photos of the mares and foals at Hanover Shoe Farms last weekend:


I am looking into buying a VR lens for my DSLR before our next trip and have to figure out which filters I absolutely must have and where I can get the best price with the US papers and warranty (the "best price" being deceptive given the number of gray market lenses on the market). Watched The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which I continue to wish I liked more than I do; I've read a few people say they think Lena Headey shows more emotional range than Linda Hamilton did, and that may very well be true, but I think Linda Hamilton's single-minded fury really served her character. If she had dialogue about how much Kyle mattered to her or how John is her entire life, I've managed to block it out. (She only knew Kyle for a couple of days, for pete's sake!) And if she's so brilliant at hiding, why does she have the same hair color now that she had in the mental institution? Wouldn't she have been smart enough to go blonde if she's brunette or vice versa?

I don't want to complain too much because I'd rather have the show than not, considering we lost the mediocre Bionic Woman remake and we haven't had a La Femme Nikita since, well, La Femme Nikita. Most of the shows I watch are so guy-heavy, particularly the genre series. But Sarah Connor is just not clicking for me, in large part because she's not the heroine I remember.

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