Thursday, June 01, 2006

a poem!


I promise I won’t
make you an honest woman.
I promise I won’t,
til death, do part us.

Obey, or honor,
these facile vows
and easy sanctions
I won’t abide.

I give my solemn loathe
to all the holy, godly
ways we could absolve our love,
or make our righteous way.

We’ll never be wed.
We’ll grow older and
make music together,
dancing out of step.

And godless praise us,
we will shine
and we will live
like heathens.

And godless knows
we know no scripture
and we live


And every June, unbridled,
and every hot summer
will remind
of our desecrated love.

My love, this world
will not contain us;

it needn’t; we
don’t need it; we
make a world of our own,

where vows and promises
are senseless as the sun,
aimless as the wind,
purposeless as rain,

the summer blossoming
and promising nothing
more and nothing
less than fruit.

to my loveliest
1 June, 2006


Bobo the Wandering Pallbearer said...

Nice nice.

Robert Kirkman said...

I am of two minds about this poem, and I have been of two minds about whether to say anything about this poem.

I need to cut down on the number of minds of which I am, so here goes.

On the one hand, this is a good poem. It's well crafted; it flows; it sings. It reminds me a little of e.e. cummings and a little of Billy Collins, oddly enough.

On the other hand, knowing something of the history behind this, if only from afar, I find the ideas herein troubling and vaguely irksome.

Call me cynical, or bourgeois, or reality-based, but binding vows have their uses - and their own kind of beauty.

You may not want them, and you may not think you need them. That's all right - let a thousand flowers bloom.

I guess what bugs me is an odd mix of subtexts, especially superiority over bourgeois conventionality ("these facile vows") combined with defiant and defensive tactical retreat ("we make a world of our own").

The effect is somehow almost adolescent. I imagine e.e. cummings, with all of his mature skill as a poet, but writing as a teenager trying too hard to denounce his parents and pursue some romantic vision of a more authentic life.

I hope you'll forgive this bit of literary criticism. As I said, let a thousand flowers bloom.

Bobo the Wandering Pallbearer said...

Bob, God love ya, you're wrong.

Robert Kirkman said...

Bobo . . . er . . . Jim, I see what you mean. This is really nothing at all like Billy Collins.

God doesn't love me, and I'm not even sure about godless.

Doc Nagel said...

Bob, I think you're making assumptions about the subtext that aren't correct, and I also believe you're missing a key bit of wordplay. "Vow" here stands-in for the ceremony and the civil and religious institution of marriage, and not the commitment of one person to another whom one loves. It's basically an anti-marriage poem, not an anti-commitment poem.

Also, it's not to criticize the "bourgeois conventionality," but the discriminatory practice of the institution of marriage. My most proximate targets are self-appointed defenders of what they regard as true marriage (hence, by the way, the "godless" references) and the State of California, which recognizes same-sex domestic partnerships, opposite-sex marriages (though with certain greater privileges), but not opposite-sex domestic partnerships.

I have nothing against marriage per se. I have a lot against marriage that is practiced in a bigoted way. Would that a thousand flowers were permitted to bloom, rather than only 900.

Robert Kirkman said...

I saw that it was an anti-marriage poem, that you were celebrating a commitment that transcends vows and promises. I can also see your take on discrimination - would that we could have civil unions for any couple who wanted to commit to one another.

But then that would mean that you yourself might be interested in some sort of non-religious civic vows, facile or otherwise, a sort of marriage-that-isn't-quite-marriage. I didn't get a sense of that from the poem.

I guess my own reading of the poem was informed by other things I've read in this blog. The assumptions I made about subtext - though I admit they may be wrong - were still reasonable in light of the public persona you've been projecting here.

I suppose that none of us really gets to control how our writings are interpreted.