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The Little Review
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Poem for Tuesday


Disgraceland
By Mary Karr


Before my first communion at 40, I clung
    to doubt as Satan spider-like stalked
        the orb of dark surrounding Eden
            for a wormhole into paradise.
God had first formed me in the womb
    small as a bite of burger.
        Once my lungs were done
            He sailed a soul like a lit arrow
to inflame me. Maybe that piercing
    made me howl at birth,
        or the masked creatures
            whose scalpel cut a lightning bolt to free me—
I was hoisted by the heels and swatted, fed
     and hauled through rooms. Time-lapse photos show
        my fingers grew past crayon outlines,
            my feet came to fill spike heels.
Eventually, I lurched out to kiss the wrong mouths,
    get stewed, and sulk around. Christ always stood
        to one side with a glass of water.
            I swatted the sap away.
When my thirst got great enough
    to ask, a stream welled up inside;
        some jade wave buoyed me forward;
            and I found myself upright
in the instant, with a garden
    inside my own ribs aflourish. There, the arbor leafs.
        The vines push out plump grapes.
            You are loved, someone said. Take that
and eat it.

--------

"To take up this column, kicked off 12 years ago by my mentor, Robert Hass, is to inherit my poetic father's former post," writes Mary Karr in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post's Sunday Book World. "However flattering it may be to follow him, his shadow feels daunting. Harold Bloom argues in The Anxiety of Influence that each writer struggles against influences in an Oedipal fight to slay overbearing patriarchs. But...in poetic ancestry, an alleged tormentor may make the best mentor -- and vice versa."

It was an absolutely gorgeous near-70 degree Monday here, of which the prettiest part for me was taking a walk around the neighborhood where the crocuses are blooming and the daffodils are starting to come up. (Still no news about Adam's violin, though apparently both the principal and the music teacher talked to the girl responsible.) I stopped in the mall briefly to get glass tea mugs -- the longer I live the more I think tea tastes better in glass than any kind of earthenware-ceramic-china cups -- and to go to Bath & Body Works, which is giving away free orchid tote bags with any purchase for the next couple of days in honor of their new orchid scent...which is too flowery for me, but I had a gift card left over from my birthday that I used to get Brown Sugar & Fig hand cream. So that and the Martian avalanche photo pleased me.













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We all watched Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which I am sorry to say I won't really miss if it doesn't come back, though my whole family likes it so I'm glad to watch it with them. I wish I liked this Sarah as much as the movie Sarah but she's just not working for me...I don't think seeing Lena Headey in the role right after seeing her in 300 particularly helps, but it's been ongoing all season. I really did not like the FBI murders with the bodies in the swimming pool and Johnny Cash music playing -- being on TV, there was less gratuitous blood than, say, in 300, but it still seemed horribly pretentious to me, like that episode of La Femme Nikita where they dressed the girls up as betta fish and had them kill each other in the swimming pool, like making it artsy excuses the voyeuristic "look how cool these deaths look!" aspect. Ugh. I did love the scene with John and young Kyle in the park, but that's typical for me with this series: give the men the big emotional scenes even as they dismiss the women as ice bitches.

I really enjoyed the New Amsterdam previews, but since it starts Tuesday night, I just looked it up and now I'm confused: all this time I assumed it was based on Pete Hamill's Forever, a book I love, because the premise seems to be taken right out of that novel except that the protagonist is Dutch instead of Irish (which I assumed was so they could cast Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). But Fox claims it's an original idea -- WTF! I hope Hamill sues, because I've really been hoping for a movie based on that book. Right now I'm watching "Ancient Chinese Super Ships" on Ancient Discoveries on the History Channel, which is pretty cool though also pretty Western-biased even though their shipwrights built better warships than Europe and larger too.
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