Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Strange Aside

I've had poets on my mind lately.

The other day when I did my first shift at Phoenix Books I did my usual wandering around the store seeing which desirable titles they had on hand. On the Sale table I discovered a stack of thick paperbacks, copies of the collected works of a poet I had never heard of before: Harold Norse. And the title of his huge collected poems struck me as irresistibly enticing: In The Hub Of The Fiery Force.

That was June 8th.

Today I finally made right on my resolution to find this poet's biography online. I learned that not only was he a preeminent gay, Beat poet, a fan and friend of William Carlos Williams and Charles Bukowski, and who lived in San Francisco's Mission District for the last 35 years, but that in fact, according to wikipedia at least, he died the very day I was looking through his collection, wondering who the hell he was.

Which makes me think I should go back and buy that On Sale book, In The Hub Of The Fiery Force. And you should too.

Here's a poem from it:

Carnivorous Saint

we dig up ancient shards
clicking cameras
among the dying cypresses
choked by Athenian smog.

yet cats continue basking
in the hazy sun
the chained goat sways in ecstasy
the Parthenon looks down from creamy heights
lichen and rust nibble the pediments
and tourist feet break the spell
of antiquity's vibrations

the grass hits
as I look at rusty orangeade caps
thinking Who needs nuclear Apollo?
thermonuclear Minerva?
Nike crashing to grand finale?

we need the anti-Christ
who is probably playing football around the corner
the sweet boy who used to be called Eros
and wants us to be happy.

bring back the carnivorous saint
whose mother is no virgin
she's Our Lady of Peace Movements
to ban the bomb and clean up the air
she'll wave her umbrella and change the world.

ah yes, when the grass hits
old worlds burn down and new worlds form
in clouds of brown monoxide morning.

Athens, Jan. 1964

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