Wednesday, August 08, 2007

For the Little Red Schoolhouse of Our Mouths

I hadn't thought about Charles Simic in a few years, but it warmed my once-poetry-loving heart to hear he's our new Poet Laureate. His poetry is both instantly understandable AND mysterious, which makes it more mysterious, which makes it more like life. My guess is whatever Washington folks make these decisions didn't read all of his poetry, though, for our Poet Laureate has penned this work that admits to a lasciviousness that might shock the blue-bloods....


I love breasts, hard
Full breasts, guarded
By a button.

They come in the night.
The bestiaries of the ancients
Which include the unicorn
Have kept them out.

Pearly, like the east
An hour before sunrise,
Two ovens of the only
Philosopher's stone
Worth bothering about.

They bring on their nipples
Beads of inaudible sighs,
Vowels of delicious clarity
For the little red schoolhouse of our mouths.

Elsewhere, solitude
Makes another gloomy entry
In its ledger, misery
Borrows another cup of rice.

They draw nearer: Animal
Presence. In the barn
The milk shivers in the pail.

I like to come up to them
From underneath, like a kid
Who climbs on a chair
To reach the forbidden jam.

Gently, with my lips,
Loosen the button.
Have them slip into my hands
Like two freshly poured beer-mugs.

I spit on fools who fail to include
Breasts in their metaphysics
Star-gazers who have not enumerated them
Among the moons of the earth....

They give each finger
Its true shape, its joy:
Virgin soap, foam
On which our hands are cleansed.

And how the tongue honors
These two sour buns,
For the tongue is a feather
Dipped in egg-yolk.

I insist that a girl
Stripped to the waist
Is the first and last miracle,

That the old janitor on his deathbed
Who demands to see the breasts of his wife
For the one last time
Is the greatest poet who ever lived.

O my sweet, my wistful bagpipes.
Look, everyone is asleep on the earth.
Now, in the absolute immobility
Of time, drawing the waist
Of the one I love to mine,

I will tip each breast
Like a dark heavy grape
Into the hive
Of my drowsy mouth.



Blogger skippy said...

hey, whadday know! i love breasts, too!

4:18 PM  
Anonymous numfar said...

I thought I knew breasts, but now I understand that I am but a fumbling pimpleton.

9:21 PM  
Blogger George said...

Numfar, that's better than being a pimply fumbleton!

10:00 PM  
Anonymous BDB said...

I was so happy to hear about his appointment. He's one of my all-time copy of "Hotel Insomnia" is just about worn out...One can only hope he reads THIS piece at a formal event.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Wait a second. Wasn't he supposed to use metaphor or something?

4:06 AM  
Blogger ahab said...

Sure, I'll grab the chance to start the second handful of comments. It's just hanging there, after all.

GREAT poem, George!

When was this published? There's a scene (an homage?) in Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello that approximates this verse:

"That the old janitor on his deathbed
Who demands to see the breasts of his wife
For the one last time
Is the greatest poet who ever lived."

(I'm patiently waiting for NiP to do another Bullwinkle over at Tom's.)

8:12 AM  
Blogger Queen Whackamole said...

A pairadelle!

WV: txudeo (buttons?)

11:33 AM  
Blogger Marty said...

And the two second best things of all about our new poet laureate is that he ain't a jerk and he likes good wine.

12:04 PM  

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