Poetry Thursday: At the Library, Jesse Millner
For my first Poetry Thursday venture, which was to take a field trip and explore through books of poetry in a library or bookstore, I went to my university library and wandered through the PS 3500 and PS 3600 sections, culling through Elizabeth Bishop, Terrance Hayes, and Muriel Rukeyser. But I stopped at a very slim volume.
Oh, before going on, I hope the other Poetry Thursday contributors either bought or checked out the books of poetry, which I think might be the real goal behind this week's assignment.
I unconditionally recommend Jesse Millner's wonderful chapbook, The Drowned Boys, published by March Street Press. Below are the final two sections of his title poem, a long, breezy, associative narrative/meditation, and this exerpt alone does not do the work justice.
from "The Drowned Boys," by Jesse Millner:
The lost shoe woman takes the 151 bus
north on Lake Shore Drive.
On the ride home, she composes a grocery list: deodorant,
granola bars, tofu hot dogs, cat food;
and doesn’t notice the long dream of water to the east
or Lincoln Park to the west.
And all around her the world is quickening.
The statue of Phil Sheridan at Diversey
disappears into dusk and lights come
on in the big apartment buildings
along the eastern edge of the green space
that stretches for miles.
Soon the moon will rise from the waters,
fat and full but shrinking with altitude.
I can tell you now that I’m grateful for my new religion
of moonlight confessions and communion
with yellow cheese.
I take in la luna and I am transubstantiated
from drinking man to spirit.
I confess my sins, of which there are multitudes.
Is anyone still listening?
Whitman’s sleep is a moonlit field
near Des Moines.
His poem has become the earth
and his lines are as long
as geologic time.
The lost shoe woman sleeps with her cat
in a canopy bed next to an open window
where white curtains catch the east wind
off the lake and moonlight gleams
on the just-varnished oak floors.
She no longer dreams of a red Converse all-star.
And the drowned boys whisper on humid river nights.
Their muted voices become
the living current.