Friday, April 25, 2008

Poet with B.O. (...not Ginsberg)

"Sometimes I wonder if teaching is a political act. But I don't really care if it is political or not. I'm not much of a political guy. I do care about that students are influenced by what I bring to the class.And when they are moved by language, by poetry, oh man, then I am a pig in shit."- Matthew Lippman, on teaching poetry

National Poetry Month will soon be past. That's cool, only because my obligation to discuss moving, exact poetry will go with it. As we ease out of highbrow mode, I'd like to share one of my favorite decidedly NOT highbrow poets - Matthew Lippman. Matthew's poetry covers, in no particular order, topics like:

Getting fat in America... fat he considers himself a Jewish Buddha
His friend nicknamed Noodles
Throwing students out of class
Long Island girls
Diane Arbus
The cleaning lady
Not having sex for five years
...and, of course, God.

Neither high nor lowbrow, Matthew's poems articulate who he is at his spiritual and physical core, which often meld together into something unworldly and (according to "Made of Something") rank; and that's totally awesome.

It Is Time for Me to Start Making Love to Joni Mitchell
from The New Year of Yellow

It is time for me to start making love to Joni Mitchell.
It is time for me to get on a plane to Southern California and have sex
with blonde baby Joni;
the wide-eyed Joni, the one with horse breath and gangrene teeth,
the one with sunken cheeks and a forgetfulness for sin.

It is time for me to start making love with paint-brush Joni, burned out
on smoke,
full of thistle and spruce,
walked between fourteen part harmonies heart inside sleep and out.
The Joni who wrote Urge for Going and River,
the Joni who penned Amelia wandering the desert with her bare feet in
New Mexico sand
while the Zuni men wrapped themselves in her voice before paying
homage to elvis, Budweiser
and the exploding turquoise
that could never strip them from their grandfathers.

I would make love to the middle-aged Joni half naked, a shirt on and my
white socks.
I would say delicacy and uprising before it was over.
then I would open the windows like i was opening a tree
and turn to myself for affirmation and rain.
The younger Joni would be more of an issue--
fresh from strawberry eyes and blue rock -
because how do you make love to a genious at such a young age
with a face like wind,
with a whale in her spine and a humility of sky
that dances in dips and bows
then lights up the whole evening purple right before night sets in?

Yes, it is time for me to make love to Joni Mitchell,
to settle into my ways, my affairs,
eat some asparagus and bed down,
swim the sheets and smell the mushroom that is Joni,
the forest fire and old world,
make love to Joni before the fog sets in
between the eight strings of her Appalachian dulcimer already in strum.


Sarah said...

That's fantastic. Give us another!

Eden From Sweden said...

I know! He's awesome! Here's a link to "Surf Buddha"...