Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What would Wallace do?

Living in a college town (OKay, in a town that is college-town-adjacent), we hear a lot (A LOT) about how impractical artistic intellectual types have no business sense.  Did I mention I live in a farming town?  Have you ever heard of an industry more rife with hard working, below par businessmen than small farming?  Seriously, the hours they put in & what they barely get for that?  I'm not saying I'm not grateful, just that I had a hard time keeping a straight face while I bought my feed before they knew I was laughing at them.

Anyway, farming is neither here nor there because today is Wallace Stevens birthday.  Wallace Steven is almost the first poet I ever heard of, mostly because his stomping ground was my stomping ground, although I was not born until decade after his death.  He won a Pulitzer for his poetry.  He was also at the helm of a major Hartford insurance group for many many years (I have actually seen I-don't-know-how-many live performances in a theater named for him in the gynormous office building that is the home of the same insurance company).  Wallace Stevens was born into a prominent conservative family & was himself a member of the Republican Party & had strong anti-labor union beliefs.  When he married his wife, a woman from a working class background, his parents refused to attend the ceremony; he never spoke to them again.

So I think we can all agree it would be hard to predict what Wallace would do, so enough about him now lets talk about my cow.  Wait, one more thing about Wallace Stevens:  his poetry really is marvelous.  None of that black-is-the-color-of-my-true-love's-heart-hair-whatever that has become a cliche.  One of my favorites is Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.  I also like the Peggy Lee's version of Bye Bye Blackbird, which is not relevant except you can hear it here.

Let me present my version titled This Many Ways of Looking at Milking My Cow:

I. Misty or steamy there is
nothing like the smell
of potent lady cow

II.  Her bag pushes her legs further
apart, arched up to her back
her back is bony table

III.  Myself folded & reaching
underneath for the wrinkled
gorilla fingers swelling smooth

IV.  One two one
one two two
one two three
one two four

IV.  Sometimes I dream that someone is
twisting my hands, pulling my fingers straight
folding  them, turning them
slowly like mozzarella

V.  I saw the cord in the mirror
in my arm, when I reached to put away the towels.
These are new muscles.

& finally   VI.  You know those men - it's always men - who like to squeeze your hand until your finger tips turn blue & pretend it is just a friendly handshake?  I can make those men cry.

I think it is safe to say Wallace would be spinning in his grave.  Also, I really need to get some sleep.  Good night.

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