Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"No Day Rhymes with Poetry" Wednesday

As I mentioned last week, I'm trying to read more poetry after having been turned on to some really great pieces during April's National Poetry Month celebration. I saw one piece I really loved and managed to track down the book it came from, Love, An Index. Written by Rebecca Lindenberg, Love, An Index was written about Lindenberg's passionate relationship with poet Craig Arnold, who went missing in 2009 while hiking a volcano in Japan.

This is the piece that attracted me to the book. It's called Aubade, which means "morning love song (as opposed to a serenade, which is in the evening), or a song or poem about lovers separating at dawn." (Thanks Google!):


I woke in a gold dress,
you, in jeans.

Morning filled
wine bottles in the kitchen.

Fine mica glitter
of fish scales and salt.

Outside, it was quiet.

You said: That went well,
don't you think?

Sun behind you

I kissed the hole in the light
and said: Yes.

I fell in love with the line about kissing the hole in the light, which I found so beautiful and unique.

Unsurprisingly, some of the pieces in Love, An Index were lost on me due to form or content or both, but there was also plenty to make the book (a short 88 pages) well worth my time. I liked the fact that Lindenberg used various forms, it not only made things feel fresh, but I wasn't shut out by one form I didn't connect with.

The works included what I would call "traditional" poetry, "footnotes" about love, word translations, phrase translations of "losing language" (i.e., "My sympathies : I fear to say something that might make it worse; You're so strong : I can see you've showered"), status updates, and the main piece and my favorite, the titular Love, An Index. Love, An Index is just that, an alphabetical list of words, places, people, and things that had an impact on or defined Lindenberg and Arnold's lives.

For example (I've taken these from various places in the alphabetical list, it's quite a lengthy piece):

OH, a sound suggesting settlement, appropriate to situations of spiritual amazement and erotic bliss, but also polite boredom or the horror of learning the person who really knew you has died.

OMAHA, where we'd go to the Antiquarium for old books, the Zen Center for poetry slams, and to that one Persian restaurant, the chicken stewed in pomegranate-walnut sauce, conjuring what it might be like to sleep under a heavy rug in a desert palace in wintertime.

OVER, when I answered the phone that May morning and the man from the search team said, "It's over."

PERSEPHONE, the maiden, Queen of the Dead. You wrote her a hymn about "the grace to release our beloveds kindly into her care." I am trying.

TRANQUILITY, another thing you gave me that I didn't have before, and I am losing it again.

VOW, I think as much now about the ones we failed to make as the ones we faithfully kept.

You get the point. It's a beautiful, heartrending piece, the alphabetical history of a love affair and the devastation of its loss. I really recommend this book if you're a poetry veteran or someone like me who is interested in testing the waters. I hope to keep this "experiment" going, so if you have any poetry recommendations, bring 'em on.

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About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


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