His fingers don’t seem to move
as he rips through secondary dominants
of “Boplicity,” “Simone,” “Ray’s Idea.”
The alto is a golden fishhook.
Why such blazing tempi when he’ll die
in six weeks? Perhaps in heroin
there’s a calm in which you can fit
a thousand notes into one beat.
Drums, bass, Hammond organ—
these are unnamed men, faces
you’ve met all your life
and bargained with, nodded to,
yet they have no difficulty
with the subtlest modulation.
The audience is three drunks,
one cursing an imaginary waitress,
one mumbling apologies, one sleeping.
Now try to eat your extremely salted cashews
so slowly there will always be one left.
A Night In Brooklyn is the tenth collection of poems by D. Nurkse, the borough’s former poet laureate. It includes “Summertime” (originally published in The Atlantic), “The North Side” and “There Is No Time, She Writes,” “The Bars,” and “Damariscotta” (which was originally published under the title “Newfane”). Several poems appeared in Poetry; in addition to the poem that gives the collection its name, there’s The Rain-streaked Avenues of Central Queens,” “Psalm to be Read with Closed Eyes,” “The Dead Remember Brooklyn,” and “August in the Dolomites” (originally called “Engagement in the Dolomites” and then “A Marriage in the Dolomites”).
Drunken Boat first published “Letter from Home,” and they also have an audio file of Nurkse reading it.
2 August 2012 | poetry |
photo: Patrick Mullen
Drinking deeply on the globe, waiting for blackness
to overtake romance completely,
eyes roaming the faded amphitheater of woods, I breathe in
pine pitch, admire columns of pines everlasting
against the crumbling columns of the burned-down smokehouse,
its three steps leading up to nothingness
but where grass still holds the essence of pig fat
and summer’s adrenaline. Now it’s a stage
for the imagination: my father, seven, feeding his beagle
beer, laughter of the uncles resounding through air
as his pet topples over, lifting its leg to piss, exposing”
its pink and hairless stomach, the child,
at last, approved of, taken in their circle, laughter caught
in the ch-ch-ch-waah of locusts.
The Children is the second collection of Paula Bohince’s poems. “Milkweed” and “Lenox Aubade” appeared in Agni; “Mother’s Quail” was published in The New Yorker. “Gypsy Moths, or Beloved” appeared in Orion, and “Entering the Ouse” in Poetry. You can hear her reading “Clothesline” at Slate.
In the PIttsburgh City Paper, which is where I found this conveniently already laid-out cover and headshot, Mike Schneider writes, “This is not… Billy Collins, or many other contemporary poets, who generally keep the tone on the light side and the situations familiar. With Bohince, we are drawn into an interior network that at its best sets off Plath-like, compressed-energy depth charges of imagery, but that also can produce the uncomfortable feeling that the poem is a puzzle to solve.”
19 July 2012 | poetry |