From this hillside heaped with melon leaves
we watch a golden foil settle over the city,
the outskirt factories shuttling smoke out to sea.
Today after work, after many bad days at work,
I punched the banister into a gap-toothed smile.
On the news we heard of the innocent bystander
caught in a hail of bullets. We imagined
downy feathers in a pendulum descent.
You pull the wine from the rapid of a cold brook.
Exhausted stars recoil into night.
Our mouths, open and soundless,
taste peach on our tongues, a hint of clove.
A: Three poems actually, all read in college. “Blackberrying” by Sylvia Plath, which I still hold up to be an ideal lyric poem. “For the Union Dead” by Robert Lowell for its linguistic dexterity, his torrents of jagged sound–Lowell was the first poet that used language in a way that I had never read or heard. For a long time I wanted to write like Lowell, and still return to him when I feel like my lines have run stagnant. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” which still remains one of my favorite poems. I loved how it sprawls, yet how tightly constructed it is; I loved the lines “I should have been pair of ragged claws/ Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” Also since the age of eighteen I have often felt like an anxious, balding old man.