Monday, April 07, 2008

poetry month

Today I had the pleasure of receiving this e-mailed poem from a colleague (who is also the Director of Wordstock). Enjoy, and READ MORE POETRY this month.


"The accident" is what he calls the time

he threw himself from a window four floors up,

breaking his back and both ankles, so that walking

became the direst labor for this man

who takes my hand, invites me to the empty strip of floor

that fronts the instruments, a length of polished wood

the shape of a grave. /Unsuited for this world/ --

his body bears the marks of it, his hand

is tense with effort and with shame, and I shy away

from any audience, but I love to dance, and soon

we find a way to move, drifting apart as each

effects a different ripple across the floor,

a plaid and a stripe to match the solid navy of the band.

And suddenly the band is getting better, so pleased

to have this pair of dancers, since we make evident

the music in the noise -- and the dull pulse

leaps with unexpected riffs and turns, we can hear

how good the keyboard really is, the bright cresting

of another major key as others join us: a strict

block of a man, a formidable cliff of mind, dancing

as if melted, as if unhinged; his partner a gift of brave

elegance to those who watch her dance; and at her elbow,

Berryman back from the bridge, and Frost, relieved

of grievances, Dickinson waltzing there with lavish Keats,

who coughs into a borrowed handkerchief -- all the poets of exile

and despair, unfit for this life, all those who cannot speak

but only sing, all those who cannot walk

who strut and spin until the waiting citizens at the bar,

aloof, judgmental, begin to sway or drum their straws

or hum, leave their seats to crowd the narrow floor

and now we are one body, sweating and foolish,

one body with its clear pathetic grace, not

lifted out of grief but dancing it, transforming

for one night this local bar, before we're turned back out

to our separate selves, to the dangerous streets and houses,

to the overwhelming drone of the living world.

-- Ellen Bryant Voigt

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