Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fire Island

1. Sayville Ferry
2. Atlantic Ocean
3. Beach


4. Cherry's Bar

(after Frank Bidart, tentatively)


Abandoning Hyperion,
because of its imitation of Milton,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXKeats asked his reader to pick out some lines from the poem

and put an “x” next to “the false beauty proceeding from art” [like this: X ]

and a double line next to “the true voice of feeling” [like this: = ].


What he discovered:
UPON MY SOUL ‘TWAS IMAGINATION[.] I CANNOT MAKE THE DISTINCTION.



Ginger, the drag queen, was having a rough night.
The crowd was thin and hard
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXto please;

was it then the foul-mouthed performer decided
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXTO BARE HER HEART
as she had done so successfully
in other bars where the crowd was thin
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXand hard to please?


In her Farrah Fawcett wig, and shimmering scarlet sheath of a dress, she said

—My man broke up with me after we were together for SIX years…

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXSIX YEARS

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXhe went back to Mexico,
XXXXXXXXXXXgot married and had five children….the

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXFUCKER—

he has a little dick
and yet he complained so much;—
…I love my Mexican

[X or = ?]


Then she sang, or, rather, lip-synched
with Heartbreak:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXshe grabbed her fake breast painfully,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXshe reeled round the invisible ropes of the little stage,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXshe staggered
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXand FELL
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXto the floor.
She stared into space

[X or = ?]

he has a little dick
and yet he complained so much;—
…I love my Mexican


The crowd was no longer thin and hard to please.

We were RAPT; BESIDE OURSELVES.

We were RAPT; we REMEMBERED
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXour break-ups as if they happened yesterday.

We were RAPT; our SOULS stolen by ART—
XXXXXXXXXXXXXso, for some minutes,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXwe were NOT responsible for what we did and felt;
we were dictated to:

he has a little dick
and yet he complained so much;—
…I love my Mexican

and we moved, as if despite ourselves, forward
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXto offer our grubby dollar bills.

You don’t stop singing when the going gets rough.
You don’t abandon love when love abandons you.

After that number, Ginger changed
into tight black lace
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXand lip-synched Madonna’s Hanky-Panky.


Returning to myself, alone
at the bar,
I thought about Keats and the unfinished Hyperion.
I thought about how a break-up makes the past
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXa whole and a fragment.

And when I tried to go over my past lines in my mind:

XXXXXXXX—I feel so lucky, holding hands with you, and just walking around;

XXXXXXXX—Both are equally important to me, my writing and you;

XXXXXXXX—I miss your body so much,

I COULDN’T DISTINGUISH BETWEEN ART AND FEELING.

[X and = ?]

3 comments:

Rob said...

I like it, Jee. I don't think I know the Frank Bidart, but there again, I don't know much of Bidart's stuff. But I think you've taken some perennial issues and planted good questions in the reader's mind.

Larry said...

I loved your four latest sea poems. It seems you are still mutating and getting even better and that is wonderful. I couldn't make much out of the last long poem though - it seems to fall outside my sphere of interest through no fault of its own.

Larry

Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi Rob,
just read Bidart's "In the Western Night," and was blown away by how good it is. Someone got it right: he is both classical and revolutionary.

Hi Larry,
nothing like beach vacation to get the writing flowing. Good to hear from you again.