National Poetry Month: Poem for the Day
NOT THAT PERSON ANYMORE,
MITCH BEING EVER FAINTER
by Alice Notley
can't get to the island reserved for me
the rich hold me back
I have to make the rich a cup of tea
they've shown up unexpectedly this
morning; so, out buying tea for the rich
I pee all over myself, under
my housecoat, walking down the street.
The pee evaporates quickly after all;
if I can just get the rich out of my
house I'll go off to the island.
My lover's rented it for me to be alone on,
for a day and a half.
All that stuff about E's was because
all that stuff about E's
was because I kept seeing E's graven
on the cave walls
a most common letter?
E is for pee, the flood of commonality
produced by tea, commonality
The rich always have to have some of everyone's.
Fell into a despair
the moment I was coming down
with a light cold
grieving, grieving for what, grieving for the future.
An American West of colored plates
in a library, library books:
and paloverde trees, is a dream. Is it over?
Pick up that cherry pit. Throw
it away, it's sterile.
I saw him, what a jerk
well he was acting friendly
I ran past his car; felt guilty, a little
but I had to keep on running
stay faster than he was in order to stay so
fast, to be just this fast. He
always pretends to be nice, but he's
dominating as hell. Everyone, for some
reason, says, "What a nice man!"
I ran right past him, forever?
Is no such thing, I suppose, no such thing
as hardly anything we do. All the best craftsmen,
oh yes he's one of them...I'm better, but what's that --
a full grail? What's that? He thinks he knows
what poetry is: what he and his friends write.
Dead roses from Neuilly.
I crawled into the tumulus, that tomb,
to see what was in there. Now I'm
in here. I
knew that --
the Will is dead here. I mean Mitch
is sort of dead.
The grail's full of pee which
smells like herbs.
A tall building in Barbe's
an apartment on the top floor, un-
remarkable, large; I visit it casually
prepare to leave but
the owner wants me killed for having seen it
his "man" chases me
I make it to elevator
door shuts, descent, struggle of buttons
as I'm halfway down, with his "up" button
he tries to pull me back up but
I press my "down" button hard, hold it
I win. I escape temporarily
I think, what a tacky movie!
later that night, on the Bowery, in a 40's
movie with The Bowery Boys
I've been accepted as dark
in the bodega, they said I was
dark enough to hang out on the stoop
I'm young and beautiful, denim skirt, jewelry.
The man called The Snowman
gets out of his car and says repeatedly to me,
"I'm gonna shape you up!"
I laugh; I don't have to do anything but be a poet.
Heads of state, males dressed like sheikhs
kiss each other on the lips
they're really vying to perform a favor
for an international celebrity -- another man
an athlete or singer --
in a large empty room with a microphone --
they're pecking, pecking.
a heavenly tree in
my mother's backyard:
Enter earth through narrow cave as at Sisteron
walking through corridor, behind others
holding candlelights, haloes.
Then room dark, people asleep on the ground
in a rose formation, bodies curved petals.
And there's nothing else here, right now
all my mysteries are up there in
the fragile upper air.
Once more evinced
a cruder personality
to talk to someone who's difficult
World of half-light
Don't really have to take care of myself
I've come down to the ground floor; now
I'm coming up to it
Thanks to the East Village Poetry Project.