Wednesday, November 14, 2012




Jack Gilbert



Tear It Down 
 by Jack Gilbert
We find out the heart only by dismantling what 
the heart knows. By redefining the morning, 
we find a morning that comes just after darkness. 
We can break through marriage into marriage. 
By insisting on love we spoil it, get beyond 
affection and wade mouth-deep into love. 
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars. 
But going back toward childhood will not help. 
The village is not better than Pittsburgh. 
Only Pittsburgh is more than Pittsburgh. 
Rome is better than Rome in the same way the sound 
of racoon tongues licking the inside walls 
of the garbage tub is more than the stir 
of them in the muck of the garbage. Love is not 
enough. We die and are put into the earth forever. 
We should insist while there is still time. We must 
eat through the wildness of her sweet body already 
in our bed to reach the body within the body.,0,2268324.story 





Anonymous said...

A favorite poem, Bob. I have read all of them. Critics say he didn't write many poems for a life time but who's counting? America and Pittsburgh sure knew him, including, I believe it was a Pacific Northwest Native American tribe who wanted Jack Gilbert to live with them. Enough said. Love to you and Susan, Donna

Bob Arnold / Longhouse said...

Right with you, Donna, what's a "life time" mean? I would offer this one poem could be enough. How long is a life time? How much do you love me? Please, measure that.

JG lived his life and gave us some of it and some of us gave ours back. That's tidal. It moves moons.

all's well, Bob

Bob Arnold / Longhouse said...

Further, Donna:

When he wasn't acting almost Roman, and wasn't believing he was god's given treasure to women, Jack Gilbert wrote some pretty good stuff. I used to see him struggling along on the side streets of Northampton when he was long in that town and teaching classes at Smith. He looked inches from being a bagman. A slumped book bag over his shoulder, old coat, already a crook to his walk at age 60, or so. Always alone. Someone told me he once fell out of an apple tree and that crook I saw may have been a real deal body break. I await the biography that will maybe correctly detail his life and trials, women and poems, and the somewhat honorable way of shunning fame and literary society for a one room rental in some friend's home. I'm glad he got to write some excellent books. I'm glad I got to hear him read on the Smith campus about 7 years ago. He was 80 and doing okay up there on the stage.

all's well, Bob