THE “MODERN” POETS
[I’ve been reading The Modern Poets edited by Brinnin and Read, but it’s not the poems but the p·h·o·t·o·g·r·a·p·h·s that are the most interesting pages: all those ANTIQUE poets looking so so so PRISTINE!]
How many hold cigarettes!
How many in jackets and ties!
How many turn sideways!
How many stare directly at us!
Brinnin posing at Stonehenge with a pipe
Betjeman dressed in clothes “that once belonged to Henry James.”
Robert Graves in profile in a Spanish hat
Thom Gunn in leather jacket and studded leather belt
Daniel Hoffman looking impish with I. B. Singer ears
Anthony Hecht in a work shirt doing his best Richard Conte
Robert Lowell standing meaningfully against a falling wall
like he’s auditioning for a role in an Antonioni film
The unexpectedly bright-eyed Ted Hughes
Predictably disheveled Frost
Wrinkly John Ciardi dressed like your uncle who just died
I flip between the photographs of Donald Hall and Dylan Thomas
Their bold cigars and wacky resemblance!
I stare at the picture of Delmore Schwartz
(his “Baudelaire” the best poem in the volume)
looking back at the phantom creditors gaining on him.
James Scully’s portrait forecasts a slovenly 60’s insolence.
But against all the foolishness and falsity
of these poet portraits
there is the Renaissance face
of Edith Sitwell
dressed and framed in black
whose hooded eyes and oval
inwardness are honest
like all really good poems
DROWNING IN AN EMERGING SEA
I looked up my dead mother on the Internet:
she wasn’t there, but someone with her name
was. She was listed under my name. In another
reality, I was her father.
The Internet is Borges’s Tlön,
his world inside an encyclopedia, a mutated
universe distilled from nostalgia, a cubicular
ruin infected with contagious misinformation.
MARRIED TO HAL
You dreamed I punched you in the face. Honey, I would never do that!
You dreamed I strangled the kitten. Darling, I would never do that!
You dreamed I slept with your cousin. Sweetheart, I would never do that!
You dreamed I laughed at your novel. That wasn’t any dream, baby.
Bill Yarrow, Professor of English at Joliet Junior College and seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee, is the author of Blasphemer, Pointed Sentences, four chapbooks, and the poetry CD Pointed Music. His poems have appeared in many print and online magazines including Pirene’s Fountain, Poetry International, RHINO, FRiGG, Altered Scale, Gargoyle, THRUSH Poetry Journal, and PANK. He is an editor at the online journal Blue Fifth Review. The Vig of Love, a new volume of poems, is forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press in September 2016.