September 11, 2013

Anne Wilson

REFLECTIONS ON A POETRY JOURNAL’S
SUBJECT MATTER IN THE MILLENNIUM DECADE

why we persist in going to stupid
high school reunions; how at 50 you realize
that you’re now too old to die young;
how to explain to a husband and child
that one feels ready to die;
then, there’s the writer who wishes to reach
samadhi—preferably before he has to be at work;
a poem in praise of one’s analyst;
one wondering about the karmic trip of a pigeon;
the melancholy of a disappointing vacation;
spending time in the dentist’s office
with one’s husband; musings on an ex-wife
dying of cancer; and a poem about losing
at Monopoly; there are poems about anorexia,
and a man who is obsessed with fish tanks;
someone else is disturbed by the fact
that he’ll never see his own corpse; another
fears that if he’s laid off in mid-life,
he will let his wife down; a puzzling
poem about what it means to “have fun,”
a meditation on dead tulips; and thoughts of
a man throwing out empty whiskey bottles
from his dead father’s apartment.

If it is true, as Louise Glück has stated,
that all poetry begins with a haunting,
our journals offer a glimmering
of what Americans find troubling
in the millennial decade. The question
of what it means to be human,
staggering in its concern for the trivial,
poses new challenges.

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004