22.6.07

a notch in the works...

from my anthology of must read (a)merican poems

Adrian Blevins

Hey You


Back when my head like an egg in a nest
was vowel-keen and dawdling, I shed my slick beautiful
and put it in a basket and laid it barefaced at the river
among the taxing rocks. My beautiful was all hush
and glitter. It was too moist to grasp. My beautiful
had no tongue with which to lick—no discernable
wallowing gnaw. It was really a breed of destruction
like a nick in a knife. It was a notch in the works
or a wound like a bell in a fat iron mess. My beautiful
was a drink too sopping to haul up and swig!
Therefore with the trees watching and the beavers abiding
I tossed my beautiful down at the waterway against
the screwball rocks. Even then there was no hum.
My beautiful was never ill-bred enough, no matter what
you say. If you want my blue yes everlasting, try my
she, instead. Try the why not of my low down,
Sugar, my windswept and wrecked.

*

Adrian Blevins, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Foundation Award, is the author of The Brass Girl Brouhaha and The Man Who Went Out for Cigarettes. The language in “Hey You,” appearing in Smartish Pace (April, 2007), is rich and untired in its sound – vowel-keen and dawdlingall hush and glitter – and Blevins is careful to keep the poetic landscape fresh, unsettled, energetic:

         It was too moist to grasp. My beautiful
had no tongue with which to lick—no discernable
wallowing gnaw.

Wording such as “a wound like bell in a fat iron mess” displays the poet’s gift of descriptive presence, a presence that is inviting in spite of its complexities. Her phrasing is never is off-putting or exclusive, but is, rather, dreamlike in its hypnotic effect on the reader’s ear. And the poet is careful not to expose the poem’s power, refusing to unmask the beautiful, allowing a more personal understanding of the piece.

In tossing the “beautiful down at the waterway against / the screwball rocks,” I feel the shadow of William Stafford on the Wilson River road. There is no hum, Blevins writes, emphasizing a hollow world that is “windswept and wrecked”.

This poem is full of surprise, and continues to draw from an inexhaustible well:
     If you want my blue yes everlasting, try my
she instead. Try the why not of my low down

Yes. I’ll keep returning to her poetry.

9 comments:

Liz said...

Love this poem, Sam...especially these lines that you quoted -

'If you want my blue yes everlasting, try my she instead. Try the why not of my low down'

Another great find, thanks.

Liz

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks, Liz, for the read and comment. The quoted lines are powerful.

Andrew Shields said...

That is one of the finalists in my Daily Poem Project:

http://andrewjshields.blogspot.com/2007/06/dpp-final-round.html

Come on over and vote if you like!

(My word verification is lsdfoq: too bad it wasn't lsdfaq, as there is surely an LSD FAQ somewhere on the web!)

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks for the opportunity to vote, Andrew. I like your project.

pperry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pj nights said...

I heard Adrian read at a poetry festival a year or so ago and IMMEDIATELY bought "The Brass Girl Brouhaha" to have for my very own...

love your comments on these poems, sam - they add another layer.

pj

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Blevins is a great read. Brass Girl Brouhaha is a wonderful collection. Thanks for the read, PJ.

32poems said...

Fascinating poem. Why have I not heard of her?

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Read her if you get the chance. You'll like her work.