Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Tomorrow's the Launch...

...of Poets Wear Prada Press, the people publishing my chapbook, Payday Loans. The program of reading can be found here. My chief feeling now is one of gratitude. To Roxanne Hoffman who likes the work enough to publish it. To my many readers, online and off, who commented on and supported these poems as well as my other scribblings. To my teachers at Sarah Lawrence College, in particular, Stephen Dobyns and Marie Howe, who taught me what a poem is and can be. To W., who inspired, critiqued and encouraged the work. I'll be reading these three poems from the sonnet sequence:

April 5, Tuesday

Rage, as before, against the Fall, Baghdad,
the body's prick, but in a villanelle?
If style's a way of being in the world, as Good-
man says, against what does the change rebel?
The termite temple of lust, fame and friends?
World closing in like water? From the shore,
the wave outruns and picks three out of ten.
The pope died yester—, no, the day before.
So long, pope! We're still left with Mystery
you poke and jab and slap and kick and hack
while crooning sweetly to her in your shack.
(Here it comes: the obligatory flattery.)
Your twelfth book opens with a tenor's plight,
brings down the house with “entry into night.”

for Stephen Dobyns, on the publication of Mystery, So Long

April 28, Thursday

I thought being gay saved me from being a man
and man's mistakes: great wall, sacked city, rape
and either/or. Victor or also-ran.
Pope or poop. Beta male or top ape.
Or, in my mind, Poet (upper case) or not.
Last week, before you read, your daughter ran
and tied your hand in hers. You loosed the knot
for a while, and read to strangers, students, friends.
I think of the women who lived, loved and wrote,
those who still do, as someone's daughter, wife
and mum. I'm that male poet who shuts his life,
so he can write, then read his work, and quote
Bradstreet, Dickinson, Smith, Browning, Glück,
Rossetti, Sexton, Moore, Plath, Brooks and Rich.

for Marie Howe

April 30, Saturday

In the first year, you said, a coin is dropped
into a bottle each time a couple fuck.
They take the rest of their lives, seconds copped,
to empty the decanter, with some luck,
coin by long coin. I think of your loose change
tossed into the cup—quarters, pennies, dimes
—silver and copper that came from a range
of corduroy you wore at different times,
and become sad. Then I recall you would
pick up some coins before we left the house
so as to pay with exact cash for goods
I enjoyed as more than friend and less than spouse.
Over the cup, thinking of memory's sum,
I read on a dime e pluribus unum.


brent goodman said...


Mazel Tov on your new chapbook. I can't wait to get my hands on it.


Tricia said...

Congratulations, dear heart. I am so freaking proud of you.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Thanks, Brent and Trish. When I get depressed over not writing, I'll remember your words.


Grace said...

congrats mr koh!

enjoyed reading the poems on site and now there'll be a hradcopy. what an achievement!

will it be avaliable in singapore though? or could it purhcase it directly from the author? :)


Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi grace,
thanks! I'll let you know how you can get a copy.

Jee Leong