UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY


BARRY SPACKS

LETTER

I wrote 206 words today, took
22,000 breaths of air
and released every one of them
back to the Commons.

I ate various creatures with my white teeth
smiled twice meaningfully, 83 times for sake of diplomacy,
fell in love with my usual ration, 9,
and tried manfully to keep this letter brief,

but mainly I need to mention my insight
that death itself is perfectly safe,
you can give yourself there with all your might
off we go, unendable ride.

Plus also I washed the dishes twice
managed to let 7 heart-knots slip
did daily stuff, cat's dish, quip,
wended my way by Thy Will Be Done.

I endured odd thoughts that arrive for no reason,
tried out some goodnesses, played the prick,
all on one day, and thought of you
and of you, and you. And sat like a mountain.


OLD PHOTOGRAPH

We see here a father, a dignified man,
dark suit, dark tie, glint on his glasses,
some sadness in him, as if he might say
"what you bastards required of me I've done!"
(Poppa Bird, bearing grubs to the nest).

My friends and I, we vowed escape,
not to endure that settled woe,
dark suit, dark tie, glint on the glasses...
as Alexandra wrote, "can't we just
fuck & be happy?"


AFTER THE LECTURE

So this film-maker, a writer-director guy,
during questions after his lecture
had his head cocked toward a lady up front,
just couldn't hear her, murmur-murmur,
said through the mic: "The question is probably
Don't money-people ruin everything great?"

A relief that he'd made up a question at last
or had actually managed to figure hers out
and cut it down from thousands of words
to 6, but then he told this lady:
"I say this fondly, I don't wish to harm you,
but you can't go in with that attitude.

"Because," he said, "if you go in that way
everything's turning to shit already.
You have to believe, see, in your vision;
you have to expect..." and so on. Well, later
he made it clear that screen-writers need
exactly to know what they wish to say.

I thought, who knows what I wish to say
but I'll take his advice and believe in my vision
though money people are ruinous
and will try to ruin everything great
only best not to say so -- you can't go in
with that attitude.


An earlier version of the poem, Letter, appeared in the journal The Write Room in June, 2010.

Known mainly as a poet/teacher, Barry Spacks has brought out various novels, stories, three poetry-reading CDs and ten poetry collections while teaching literature and writing at M.I.T. & U C Santa Barbara. His most recent book of poems, FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY, appeared from Cherry Grove in August, 2008. Over the years his poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review and hundreds of other journals.







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