Friday, July 15, 2011

Every Now and Again . . .

. . . comes a poem that just grabs you. The one below did me. There's no explaining why. There's nothing particularly extraordinary about this poem. It is technically competent and, I think, metaphorically brilliant. But it's not profound and certainly not difficult. And therein, I think, resides its artistry.

I discovered George Bilgere, the poet, some time ago when I read that Billy Collins, who is among my favorite practitioners of the craft, thought this guy was good. Collins was right. Bilgere has a sense of humor and writes about the everyday stuff no one notices. I get the sense that he and I are somewhere near the same age, but maybe not. At any rate, I have gotten to the stage of my life where I am pretty skeptical of what anybody proclaims as truth. But I do not doubt for a moment that truth resides in art: music, literature, poetry, painting, etc. I don't look for it anywhere else, though I do have a soft heart for scholarship.

Today I sit on the sun porch
with my body, just the two of us
for a change, the flu
having left me for someone else.

I'm thinking about how good it is
to have been sick, to have been turned
inside out. Until we are sick, says Keats,
we understand not. and for four or five days
I understood. Fully and completely.
There was absolutely no ambiguity,
no misunderstandings of any sort whatsoever.

For awhile I thought I'd never get better.
I'd be that sick eagle, staring at the sky
on a permanent basis. But
we're living in the age of miracles:
another jetliner smacked into New York,
only this time nobody got hurt. A black guy
thoroughly fumigated the White House.

And this morning I woke up
feeling like a little French village
the Nazis suddenly decided to pull out of
after a particularly cruel occupation.

The baker has come back to his store
and everything smells like warm baguettes.
The children are playing in the schoolyard,
the piano bars along the river
have thrown open their doors.

And here you are, with coffee
and an open blouse, and two cool breasts
from the land of joy

"Joy" by George Bilgere, from The White Museum. © Autumn House Press, 2010.
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