Hurricane Irene is lightly raining out there, through the open living room screen door, 3AM.
The experts call this the calm before the storm. Who can sleep?
We in Vermont wouldn't really know ~ the last great hurricane that any old timer liked to tell me about barreled through in the 30s or 40s. We still drive over many creek bridges that were rebuilt after that storm. A whale of a rainfall.
It could grow to be 12 inches of rain, or better, with Irene. Sweetheart and I easily remember 18 inches not too long ago. Closed our road. Lifted and took the green out of the river.
I don't like to talk too much, or too loudly, certainly not too boldly with Mother Nature. She does what she does, and even sometimes has to do. It's up to us to collect jugs of clean drinking water before hand. We went to the grocer's and bought our first head of lettuce since early May. The garden season for lettuce is almost up and now this drowning rain.
There really isn't all that much to buy. We saw people buy gasoline for generators. All men. We bought batteries.
If the power goes out for days and days we'll be eating a lot right out of the fridge before we lose it. We might invite you over.
I don't like to talk too much, or too loudly, certainly not boldly about poetry. It also does what it does. I watched the new film Poetry the other night, and hard to believe I watched Secret Sunshine the night before that. Two Korean powerhouse films. Brilliantly acted and lived within by two women actors.
There is a scene in Poetry, amongst many, where I believe the essence of a nasty poet is well portrayed. It comes late in the film, with next to no fanfare. You might be so used to seeing and experiencing this in your own life that you'll miss it. You'll want to hope it doesn't portray you. Even speaking to it makes me feel uneasy. But there is the poetry teacher in the film, not a bad guy at all, he tries hard, seems quite sincere with his students, is patient and likewise candid and real with each one. But now we have him outside the classroom and meeting a few of his students at a public seating and the teacher, himself a poet, brings along a close friend that he describes in so many words as a "real poet". The guy miserably lives up to the description; in fact when the teacher speaks to his students (all adults) in a tone of fellowship and kindness it about splits the head apart of the real poet's cult and intelligence. At one point he leans toward the teacher and asks him with a killer grin if he is acting for real with what must be a sickening nonsense. Probably none of the students will ever carry the water to write many poems like this real poet. It appears writing one poem is daily haunting many of the students, but oh do they show determination and belief. Plus a collective kindness. I've been in these classrooms. I've seen that hopelessness time and again try to climb that grease rope of hope. I've quietly told the cynics to get the fuck out of the room.
There is a scene in Poetry where her hat blows off on the bridge. Telling.
Nothing I've read by Pound, Bloom, Mistral, Keats, Neruda, Brooks, Eliot, Milton, Shakespeare, Saigyo, Transtromer, Stein, and stacks and stacks and stacks of books in my room does any better than this film.
How do we write poetry in a world that has lost interest? How do we write poetry when we can barely get through the day? How do we write poetry when we can't even see poetry but someone insist it is in all of us?
Go out and tell the dog to bark. If you've trained the animal it will be a trained bark. Sound like a trained bark. Otherwise, it barks when it is ready to bark. Poetry barks.
It takes toughness and kindness but don't say those words. Just know and earn those words.
The film Poetry opens with what we believe is the floating body of a very young woman in a river. Children discover this body as they play.
So many contrasts. Like sprinkles of rain preceding the hurricane, then to bed, and later in the morning rise to a harrowing mess. Such poetry!
Today I knelt down to the bottom shelf in a bookshop, and I'm always by myself in this section, the poetry section. I was drawn to a new large collection of poems by Tim Dlugos. I remember his work well years ago and read his many slim volumes. Young and long hair, off in the shadows. As a dead man his first book in years is large and handsome and he's been well taken care of by David Trinidad as editor and tender. A kind tender, I might add. The poet is now older with his hair cut and sitting out on the steps like Joe Brainard. Another poet compares Dlugos to Frank O'Hara, but no one yet has shown to be Frank O'Hara and I doubt it will ever happen. Bark. Bark. I decided to leave the book behind, knowing I would regret it, and I do. Too many silly short poems which really aren't silly at all. They each add to the whole of this revolutionary poet who was revolutionary because he fought for love. There are no greater fighters than lovers.
Imagine fighting Irene.
Tim Dlugos, A Fast Life (Nightboat Books)
Director of both films: Lee Chang-dong
Secret Sunhine (2007): actress Jeon Do-yeon
Poetry (2010): actress Yoon Jeong-hee