Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Morning Romanticism

Poetry and Academia
I’m self-taught in my writing.  I never got an English degree or an MFA though they might have suited me well.  I opted for History and TESOL, safer routes.  I avoided English, fearing what criticism could do to the shy, introspective person I was.  When I was in grad school, I took the train from NY to Stony Brook.  One day the line was cut.  An English grad student had jumped onto the tracks.  We tried to make sense of her act through her poems which appeared in the college paper.
History was safer but even then, in my seminar on war, I was the only female, always called on first in every session.  I got a C in the course to the protests of the other students.  When I spoke to the professor, he confessed how lonely he was and how solitary his life was.  What was I supposed to do with that information?  No wonder I shunned academia for years, though I ended up working in it.
   I recommend “In the Palm of Your Hand” by Steve Kowit for those of you, like me, who are writing alone.  The exercise was to take the first line of Rossetti’s poem and go with it.  So here is a bit of Monday morning romanticism. 

“After I am dead my dearest”
fill my grave with companionate figures,
ceramic men and women
toiling the soil,
and standing guard,
the tasks of life
I no longer share.

Close my eyelids
with a kiss,
my lips too cold,
Purify the corpse
with fire,
Collect remains
In a bright ceramic vase
painted with birds and bears.
Lay it deep in the earth
with my terra cotta
statue friends.


  1. Nice poem!. I remember those thoughts about the ceramics.

  2. It was after I saw the Chinese tomb figures.