Didn’t know the first poet in the September 1 issue of The New Yorker, Marylen Grigas. But I like her “About Muscle,” a sort of natural history poem. “If there’s no need for movement, then no need for a brain…a fact demonstrated by the sea squirt…it settles on a rock. Then it devours its own brain.” How can one not like such a poem, so fun and weird? “Evolution of the brain is about muscle. Just ask Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Are you kidding me? A poet who teases Schwarzenegger? Yay. ;-> From there the turn has the narrator speak of herself, “moving and arranging boulders last fall.” Then she draws a powerful conclusion in her surprise ending. Yep. A very satisfying poem.
The other poem, by Michael Dickman, “Mouse Hunt,” is far more challenging a read, though much can still be teased out of it. “Your little eyes / brake lights…scrunched up beneath / the house.” I get that image — the little eyes reflecting light. Though I admit I’ve never seen that with a mouse. “Your pleasure center radio antennae checking the latest / score” Then the poem bounces out of the car metaphor, going into a series of more and more loopy non-sequiturs: “Bumblebee marbles full of shit.” “Your tumors dancing…” Interesting lines, but kind of pointless for me. He does always bring it back to the mouse, though, right to the last line. Still, I left the poem feeling dissatisfied, as though the poem promised depth but never delivered. It’s certainly possible the depth was there and I just missed it, however.
Peace in poetry,
P M F Johnson