Today (tonight,actually) I’m posting my favorite poems from my favorite living contemporary poets.
by Carrie Jarrell
Called me Hot Stuff. Called me Ragtop,
Lugnut, your Deere-in-the-Driveway Duchess.
Called forth Bad Company from the pickup’s stereo
and, lo, I appeared with a buck knife
and a hundred-proof smile, my battered hunter’s manual
tucked in the waistband of my cutoffs.
What were we at first but two necks of the same guitar,
high on the blister of our power riff? Each night
was a stadium tour, each day an album cover
fit for collecting. How precious,
how practiced we looked those weekends at the lake,
posing in our matching hipwaders and stabbing
at the world’s swamp-stink with the gig of our love.
But forever is a black fish hiding in cattails, a fat plop
always sounding out of range. Soon, the lake iced over.
The far-off smoke of forest fires stole your attention.
While I dreamt pyrotechnics for our stage duets,
you and your matchbox slid out the window.
No note. No final mix tape. No rose left thorny
on the nightstand. I searched for you in parking lots
until a passing trucker said he’d caught your show
in Denver, that you wore a silk shirt and played everything
acoustic, and the news rocked me like a last track ballad.
Oh Big Daddy, Daddy with the Long Legs,
father of a stillborn promise and my liveliest rage,
for weeks I choked on your name, stuck so deep
in my craw it took a crowbar and two months
of keg stands in Assumption, Illinois to dislodge it.
Now, I drink sweet tea in a Southern state. Now,
I am patient. Here, small likenesses of you croak to me
from their lilypadded thrones. I’d like to mistake
their bellows for green apologies, but I know better.
At night, I hunt them with a three prong. I fry them
in batter and grease. We both know what they taste like.
~ Carrie Jerrell from After the Revival, winner of the 2008 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize – I just LOVE this book. Her work reminds me of my own growing up in a rural southern town – she hits it spot-on.
Becoming the Other Woman
By Heather Foster
Inside the Indian restaurant,
I ask the hostess for a seat
beside you. Your black hair is
pulled back messily. You crack
pistachios with your fingers
and eat them with fat dates.
You sip Masala tea, listen
to Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma
bellowing out from the brass
morning glory pavilion.
I catch your husband’s eye.
He is handsome as a mango. I stare
and feel the vibrato, the stick of hot
skin, sweat to leather, that
same long end note I could hold
to be you, to have him,
perhaps have you both.
Legs crossed, I squeeze
a quick, hard rhythm, eyes fixed
on his thick fingers tapping the table,
on your soft hand scooping up
hot curried goat with a piece
of charred garlic naan.
I watch your mouth.
You both look at the portrait
hanging on the warm orange wall
of a perfectly naked woman,
who has hair like a dark river,
eyes eggplant-black, a belly
smooth as coconut custard.
And I am the woman
in the painting, naked,
eating curry with my hands,
my wedding ring
around the left erect nipple,
his around the right,
one silver, one gold, the smoky
fingers, the steady backlight.
This poem was nominated for Best of the Net by Metazen. I whole-heartedly agree. I loved this poem so much I actually googled Heather, found her website and let her know how much I admired her writing. Her blog is in my Google Reader and I say “Yay!” whenever she posts.