Friday, June 12, 2015

Poetry Friday: "In a Supermarket in Miami"

I've had an interesting week, one in which I've not made it home during daylight hours--and it's summer, so that means I've been out late.

Of course, late for me means getting in at 9:30 or so.  It's been a long time since I've been out after midnight--when that happens these days, it's usually because I'm picking someone up at the airport after a long-delayed flight.

Ah, middle age!

I've had Allen Ginsberg on the brain lately, and I'm not sure why.  I've had the kind of week, where I had dinner in a restaurant not once, but twice--that feels extravagant, but not Ginsberg extravagant.  We've shared wine, but nothing more mystical than that. 

I've also been thinking about the teaching I used to do.  The one thing I miss about a heavy teaching schedule:  I used to read more poetry to the point that I could recite much of it from memory.  But those poems have slid from my memory, except for a line here or there.

Last night, after a day of meetings that had news that wasn't as bad as I expected, I drove home down dark streets and thought about the Ginsberg poem about a late night in the grocery store (go here to read it; you have to scroll down).

When I taught the American Lit survey course, I wrote my own version:  "In a Supermarket in Miami."  I wrote it in the early years of this century, and I haven't read it in years.  So last night, I pulled it up out of the archives of the computer.  I liked it still, and so, I post it here.  I'm leaving the type face different, because I don't have time to wrestle with the formatting this morning.  I don't usually write in long lines, and I'm not sure it will transfer properly when I post.  I meant to indent the second line of each pair of lines, like Ginsberg's poem, the way it was presented in my Norton anthology (the online versions that I've seen don't preserve the formatting).

In a Supermarket in Miami

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Christina Rossetti,

            as I prowl amongst the produce,

looking for fruit so voluptuous that only goblins would sell

            the golden globed wonders.

But all I can find are bumped and bruised refugees

            giving off an oddly fluorescent gleam.

Gay men glow at each other across strange lettuce; small children eye

            the apples with more energy than I remember having.

Is that you, Emily Dickinson, depositing velvet ribbon

            wrapped packets between the potatoes?


Together, we shall link arms and wander the silent streets, looking for rain

            to wash away our doubts, dodging the Kamikaze newspaper carriers.

I will host these poets to a feast at half a crack of dawn, downy

            peaches and fairy cakes, champagne and sugar soaked tea.

We will sleep head to head, dreaming of the night,

           longing for peace and solitude and perfect poetry.


Anonymous said...

I love the poem and the individual lines of it.

Also, a few years ago, I noticed that the poems I taught to 3 classes in a day year after year have slipped out of my memory. It makes me a little sad.

Wendy said...

Hi Kristin. In case you couldn't tell from what i said and the familiarity with which i said it, the above shouldn't have been anonymous. Sorry about that. I guess I wasn't signed in on the iPad.

Kristin said...

I wondered if Anon. was you! I thought about all the folks I know who have taught poetry and have felt poetry slipping from their brains. I was surprised to realize it's a wide group of people!

Thanks for commenting and for letting me know it was you.