Barring the unexpected, we’re due to launch a pair of big projects at work tonight. In the past couple weeks, running the final tests and making the final pre-launch changes, life has been dramatically up and down. Moods have been all over the place. Confidences have died and lived again. Dishes and laundry have piled up at home as inboxes and bug reports have taken up hours at the desk nearby (in times when home beaten work at all).
Since code freeze on Friday, I’ve been pulling my self back together. While the snow has made tonight’s push a little more complicated, it’s made this morning and afternoon a cozy and maybe necessary time of recuperation. After all, when the code goes lives, that’s when life gets crazy again. After tonight, the work days aren’t going to quiet down again for a week or so.
So, the poems catching my attention these days are the ones that go back and forth, up and down. I’m working through old issues of Poetry, and the May issue is a goldmine (a snowfall?) of such verse. Back and forth on grit? By A.E. Stallings, “The Rosehead Beauty.” Or back and forth on focus and wholeness? By Peter Cole, “Song of the Shattering Vessels.” How about back and forth on work? By Peter Cole, “Quatrains for a Calling.” And back and forth on nature? By Jessica Greenbaum, “The Storm-struck Tree.”
Then there’s a combination of poems at the end of the issue’s new work. Three from Kay Ryan — “Party Ship,” “Album” and the heart-rending “Still Start” — lead into James Hoch’s “Round.” I’m not even going into details. Read the four in a row. Consuming them set inside the Poetry Foundation website, as minimal as it is, isn’t going to give you as much of a blow as receiving them on richly beige and empty magazine pages. But I bet a bit of the effect will still arrive. The string is the most brutal, head-first run into a brickwall as I’ve ever seen a magazine execute. That some editor has constructed such an experience is a glorious (brutal) back and forth.
Put another way: A concussion is awful, but the seeing-stars part is nice.
Lastly, here are four poems relatively new to me. They are more upbeat overall, or at least don’t dive as far to sadness. They’ve each confronted me on their own but assembled a collective identity in my browser tabs. They are late fall, aware of the gray but looking forward to the warm, whether inside or in seasons to come. Even the “Landscapes” poem, cold and dry, sets up a realization of being more than the sum of our parts, more than the sum of our emails, issues and hours spent inching towards a goal.
“Snow would be the easy / way out — that softening / sky like a sigh of relief / at finally being….” By Rita Dove, “November for Beginners.”
“Gettin’ together to smile an’ rejoice, / An’ eatin’ an’ laughin’ with folks of your choice; / An’ kissin’ the girls an’ declarin’ that they / Are growin’ more beautiful day after day….” By Edgar Albert Guest, “Thanksgiving.”
“Someday I’d like to go / to Atlantic City with you / not to gamble (just being / there with you is enough / of a gamble) but to ride / the high white breakers / have a Manhattan and listen….” By David Lehman, “May 2.”
“Between water reading itself a story / with no people in it / and fields, illegible, and a sky / that promises nothing, / least of all what will happen now….” By Vona Groarke, “The Landscapes of Vilhelm Hammershøi.”