Monday, January 8, 2007

Poem for the evening


Trying to work out these new poems, looking at old poems to sequence for a chapbook, I'm caught up thinking about why I love poetry, what I want my poems to do, and ultimately what I think poetry is. At some point I might do a full-fledged post or series of posts about this but I think for now I might just post the occasional poem that has been crucial to me, necessary in my life and development as a poet. Tonight's poem is from Marie Howe's What the Living Do.

Buddy

Andy sees us to the door, and suddenly Buddy is all over him, leaping
and barking because Andy said: walk. Are you going to walk home?
he said.

To me. And Buddy thinks him and now, and he's wrong. He doesn't
understand the difference between sign and symbol like we do--the thing

and the word for the thing, how we can talk about something when
it's not
even there, without it actually happening--the way I talk about John.

Andy meant: soon. He meant me. As for Buddy, Andy meant: later.
When he
was good and ready, he said. Buddy doesn't understand. He's in a state

of agitation and grief, scratching at the door. If one of us said, Andy,
when Andy wasn't there, that silly Buddy would probably jump up
barking

and begin looking for him.

2 comments:

anything but said...

That poem is always so interesting to me. How it works, where it's placed in the book, the way it talks about meaning...Sometimes I "get it" in the book and some days I don't know what to do with it. I mean, I know why it's there, but it's harder for me to get inside of it sometimes...hard to explain, I guess...

RJGibson said...

I think I get what you're saying. I don't necessarily have the reaction you're talking about, but I do have a shifting reaction to it--some days I feel closer to the heart of the poem than other days.