I keep an ear out, but I haven’t met her yet.  Her– the woman who writes poetry that makes me say, THAT. Yes. THAT. And not only that, but YOU??!!  I like the way you see the world. Come on in. Let me get you a beer. Hungry? Wait, I LOVE that album, too. You are my new best friend.

There are several men poets who I feel that for….. the weirdly connected feeling, like we’d get along.  I haven’t yet met a woman poet who I feel that way about.

I had high hopes for Adrienne Rich. Loved “Living in Sin” when I was 21, confused about my going-no-where relationship, and aching to be worldly….

She had thought the studio would keep itself;
no dust upon the furniture of love.
Half heresy, to wish the taps less vocal,
the panes relieved of grime. A plate of pears,
a piano with a Persian shawl, a cat
stalking the picturesque amusing mouse
had risen at his urging.
Not that at five each separate stair would writhe
under the milkman’s tramp; that morning light
so coldly would delineate the scraps
of last night’s cheese and three sepulchral bottles;
that on the kitchen shelf amoong the saucers
a pair of beetle-eyes would fix her own–
envoy from some village in the moldings…
Meanwhile, he, with a yawn,
sounded a dozen notes upon the keyboard,
declared it out of tune, shrugged at the mirror,
rubbed at his beard, went out for cigarettes;
while she, jeered by the minor demons,
pulled back the sheets and made the bed and found
a towel to dust the table-top,
and let the coffee-pot boil over on the stove.
By evening she was back in love again,
though not so wholly but throughout the night
she woke sometimes to feel the daylight coming
like a relentless milkman up the stairs.

I mean, that IS awesome, and resonated with me big time…. but I don’t feel connected to her….

And Mary Oliver — I love me some Wild Swans but I sometimes… feel.. a bit…. Oprah-ish, about her poems. A bit formulaic.

1. Notice Natural World.

2. Feel Big Feels.

3. Connect, and remember I am both small and big.

Don’t get me wrong– it’s an awesome formula. But…. well… like THIS ONE.

Then there’s Naiomi Shihab Nye.

I have two of her books, and liked her well enough. Then she wrote THIS and it got shared really widely and I just love it— but I don’t feel like I could go have a beer with her and talk.

Maybe that’s not a fair standard, but…. I bet I could go have a beer and talk with Raymond Carver. Richard Hugo. Billy Collins. I would be freaked out to have a beer and talk with Galway Kinnell but I would try it.

Is there a woman poet who writes about the small (spitup, wine, haircuts) and the big (grief, fear, pain, love) in a way that makes me want to bump into her at Charlie B’s?

I am open to suggestions.

A Haircut

by Raymond Carver

So many impossible things have already

happened in this life. He doesn’t think

twice when she tells him to get ready:

He’s about to get a haircut. He sits in the chair in the upstairs room,

the room they sometimes joke and refer to

as the library. There’s a window there

that gives light. Snow’s coming

down outside as newspapers go down

around his feet. She drapes a big

towel over his shoulders. Then

gets out her scissors, comb, and brush. This is the first time they’ve been

alone together in a while – with nobody

going anywhere, or needing to do

anything. Not counting the going

to bed with each other. That intimacy.

Or breakfasting together. Another

intimacy. They both grow quiet

and thoughtful as she cuts his hair,

and combs it, and cuts some more.

The snow keeps falling outside.

Soon, light begins to pull away from

the window. He stares down, lost and

musing, trying to read

something from the paper. She says,

“Raise your head.” And he does.

And then she says, “See what you think

of it.” He goes to look

in the mirror, and it’s fine.

It’s just the way he likes it,

and he tells her so. It’s later, when he turns on the

porchlight, and shakes out the towel

and sees the curls and swaths of

white and dark hair fly out onto

the snow and stay there,

that he understands something: He’s

grownup now, a real, grownup,

middle-aged man. When he was a boy,

going with his dad to the barbershop

,or even later, a teenager, how

could he have imagined his life

would someday allow him the privilege of

a beautiful woman to travel with,

and sleep with, and take his breakfast with?

Not only that – a woman who would

quietly cut his hair in the afternoon

in a dark city that lay under the snow

3000 miles away from where he’d started.

A woman who could look at him

across the table and say,

“It’s time to put you in the barber’s

chair. It’s time somebody gave you

a haircut.”


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