Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A poem whose title I can't remember by a poet I'm only learning about now

Somewhere in history
Somewhere in untold ages
Somewhere in the sands of time
Somewhere in the vast seas of eternity
There is one person
Only one
Who could understand me and love me
And you're it
So get with it

                       -Bill Knott

It's a Wednesday in April, which is National Poetry Month, and I'm posting another poem that has been important to me, this one pulled from the recesses of my memory, somewhere in the sands of time.

I remember where this poem was on the photocopied sheet we got from my creative writing professor. And my friend Ming Ming and I said it over and over; we thought it was so hilarious.

I wanted to find the poem again, but I couldn't remember the title. I couldn't even remember who wrote it, until I started looking for it today, googling the phrase "somewhere in the vast seas of eternity." And there he was: Bill Knott. Of course. I remember now. And there it was: this poem I had fallen in love with 25 years ago. Because the poet dared to play with cliches and was able to get away with it.

The only place I could find the poem online was on Yelp, of all things, where someone had started the discussion "What's the most beautiful quote?" I still don't know the title.

But now I know who the poet is, and I've found more of his work. I don't love it all, but here's the thing: I am so glad it doesn't sound like Poetry with a Capital P. That stuff gets so tiresome. Here are 10 short poems by Bill Knott. Here are two of them that I really like:

We brush the other, invisible moon.
Its caves come out and carry us inside.

Maybe (to H)
a stopsign stranded
in a sea of cacti
won’t grow needles
maybe but then

even I take on some
of human when
I’m with you


Anonymous said...

Thank you for these. Here's one I like myself:

Dreamwood, by Adrienne Rich

In the old, scratched, cheap wood of the typing stand
there is a landscape, veined, which only a child can see
or the child’s older self, a poet,
a woman dreaming when she should be typing
the last report of the day. If this were a map,
she thinks, a map laid down to memorize
because she might be walking it, it shows
ridge upon ridge fading into hazed desert
here and there a sign of aquifers
and one possible watering-hole. If this were a map
it would be the map of the last age of her life,
not a map of choices but a map of variations
on the one great choice. It would be the map by which
she could see the end of touristic choices,
of distances blued and purpled by romance,
by which she would recognize that poetry
isn’t revolution but a way of knowing
why it must come. If this cheap, mass-produced
wooden stand from the Brooklyn Union Gas Co.,
mass-produced yet durable, being here now,
is what it is yet a dream-map
so obdurate, so plain,
she thinks, the material and the dream can join
and that is the poem and that is the late report.

October/November 1987

Source: Poetry (June 2012).

LKT said...

That's wonderful. I had an Adrienne Rich poem in mind, too, but went with this. I hadn't heard this one before. Or if I had, I'd forgotten it.