The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

Sobbing Uncontrollably In Public Places
By John Engman

    That was the very room that we made
famous with our love, where our souls flew,
crying out and sighing. And that was the room
in which I wrote about her in my dreamy logbook,
thinking a few pages of blue ink would do the trick.
That was the very room in which, the wonder of love
is how I put it, the wonder of love and I succumbed
to the law of physics and all of her beautiful moves.
"Well, you're sure nobody I would pick from a crowd,"
is how she put it, and gave me a look that ate me
slowly as a poem, no wondering allowed.

    And blah, blah, blah.
Thankfully, I will never be one of those
who expect too much from a poem, who want the poet
to explode before he goes, leaving the rostrum draped
with glitz. Thankfully, I will never kill time by striking
a pose: malcontent who dreams too much, sullen fugitive
beneath the amber lamps, prince from a fallen regime.
And I don't have to go around sobbing uncontrollably
in public places to get my point across-that is
for those who want cheap thrills and headaches,
the personal touch. Let them read prose.

    Of course, any young poet
should be able to describe a room,
a few pages of blue ink in a spiral notebook.
Any young poet should be able to describe a room
so poignantly it makes your eyes wet and you continue
reading with heavy sighs. But remember, there was a girl
on the bed, and we were in love, and the room was dark-
I really wasn't a poet yet. Sure, there should have been
a villanelle in her every move, her every look another
blank page torn from the moon, but my mind had a hole
worn through it by her touch, and the funny thing is,
I don't remember much. Oh love, you crack me up.


One more by Engman, this week's Poet's Choice in Sunday's The Washington Post Book World. His last book was Temporary Help from Holy Cow! Press in 1998.

We spent the first day of September having a last-day-of-summer at the beach in Solomons, which is about an hour and a half from where we live. When we arrived, we went to The Captain's Table, a restaurant overlooking the water which has the best cream of crab soup we've ever had, and that includes in Baltimore and the Delaware beaches. Then we went to nearby Calvert Marine Museum, a terrific local facility with several buildings. The main one has a tank of skates, rays and small sharks; a pit to dig for shark's teeth and other fossils found locally (I found a megalodon tooth for Adam); a big exhibition on the natural history of Calvert Cliffs, with fossils from mastodons, sabertooth tigers, extinct sharks and many other animals; an exhibit on Chesapeake Bay ecology and invaders like the mute swan and snakehead; and a history of local ships and shipping, with exhibits on the War of 1812, local steamboats, fishing in the bay, pleasure cruising and the industrial age.

Outside, the museum is home to Drum Point Lighthouse, which has been restored inside as it looked when it was a working lighthouse housing a family. There's also a small watercraft shed with historic fishing and cruising boats. And there are a pair of otters in a large outdoor enclosure, plus a boardwalk that circles the salt marsh that begins at the rear of the museum, from which one can see shore birds, fiddler crabs, periwinkles, fish, turtles and dozens of other animals that vary by the day and time. Once we had made our way through the entire museum, we drove to Flag Ponds Park, which has nature centers and pond hikes but our major interest was the half-mile wooded trail to the beach along the bay. The park is in the shadow of Calvert Cliffs, so the beach is a great place to find shark's teeth and other fossils as well as to swim. We spent about an hour and a half there before coming home and facing another week of school!

Drum Point Lighthouse from the rear of the Calvert Marine Museum.

Beneath the lighthouse, the Wm B. Tennison, built in Maryland in 1899 for oyster dredging. From 1907 to 1978, she worked as a buyboat. The museum uses her as a tour boat.

The interior of Drum Point Lighthouse is decorated as it appeared early in the last century, when the lightkeeper lived there with his family.

A crab in the salt marsh near the lighthouse at the back of the museum.

A dogfish shark and cownose ray in the museum's exhibit on rays and skates.

A comb jelly with its rainbow of diffracting light lives inside the museum...

...while this jellyfish lives outside in the water near the lighthouse.

From Flag Ponds Park, one can see the sediment-rich layers of Calvert Cliffs and the nuclear power plant just beyond.

You can see 2005 photos of the museum here -- more to follow. I'm going to follow Barack Obama's example and stay out of Sarah Palin's family business, but I must say that the news today (when one could find news around the Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hanna and Tropical Storm Ike coverage) reminds me of a variation on an old joke about the rhythm method: What do you call people who teach their children abstinence-only sex education? Grandparents.

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