Poetry Month: Day Twenty-Six

I know that it is super uncool to like anything unless it is done so ironically, but that I have never been very good at hiding my enthusiasm. Sure, I can convince myself that I don’t want something, but that will only last so long before I break, then run around telling everyone who’ll listen. That’s kind of how it was with me finally buying myself a subscription to Poetry.

Before my interview for the NJGSA, may it rest in peace, I was gripped with my old panic of not being good enough, and convinced my mom to let me drive us to the nearest chain book store so I could learn what was happening in the writing world. On the magazine rack, among dozens of knitting publications, was this matte white background with an all-encompassing title: Poetry. For years after that first purchase, I would treat myself to a copy every few months or so: it was my thing.

When I hit college, I toyed with the idea of a subscription, but couldn’t rationalize the international fee or the number of change of address forms I’d have to fill out. (Plot twist: I despise filling out forms.) But it turned out that I had nothing to worry about. I found that a book store across the street from my university carried Poetry and, more importantly, would give me back issues for free if I bought the current one so long as I didn’t mind losing the cover. Every other month, I got that small paper comfort and renewed love for my fellow humans.

Little Aster

A drowned drayman was hoisted on to the slab.
Someone had jammed a lavender aster
between his teeth.
As I made the incision up from the chest
with a long knife
under the skin
to cut out tongue and gums, 
I must have nudged it because it slipped
into the brain lying adjacent.
I packed it into the thoracic cavity
with the excelsior
when he was sewn up.
Drink your fill in your vase!
Rest easy,
little aster!

-Gottfried Benn, trans. Michael Hofman, Poetry March 2011

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  1. eadaoinlynch

    Mark Strand was in Georgetown a few months ago. You should talk to Robert about it — he took notes. This is wonderful & I’m so glad you’ve gotten a subscription to ‘Poetry’ after all these years.


    1. Liz

      Gahhhh. I might just have to.


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