Suzanne Lummis |
The Perfect Man
For the men who've asked me,
"Why isn't there a perfect man
in any of your plays?"
There is only one of him.
He's like the last-of-its-kind
and shipped back to the zoo.
has never been captured, only
by the mirror which captures
his image, speaks
the same reassurance:
you are the fairest...
He sighs and straightness his tie.
It's terrible being a myth.
Why can't he do goofy
ordinary things --
cruise down boulevards,
be in a play?
and moves through his rooms,
fields of light, their curious
absence of shadow.
Why can we not find him?
very late, when the women
of this earth lie asleep,
he sighs, then packs up his costumes:
the formal wear, leather jacket,
the ski gear of a down-hill racer...
He's obliged to break into our dreams.
Now he will begin his long run,
through cities and provinces, from
sleek condominiums to the Highway's
last chance hotels.
It's a delicate task
If we wake we might catch
the tapping of his small
silvery hammer, its ping
We might think we hear
for a moment,. just
as it vanishes, the sledge
of some convict, some far away
prisoner, crazy to get out.
From The Broken Rules series
My Worst Poem
"Never write a poem that says 'words fail me'.
- Charles Webb
Well you don't pay the rent, don't
bring home the bacon, don't crown me
the most celebrated aging poet-princess
in the land. Words, you disappoint me.
Right here, for instance, and now,
in my worst poem yet.
It's not my fault, I'm a conduit!
You words march through me then
cue up on the page like
Depression era bread lines.
For once, why don't you do it for me
like you did it for Liz Bishop?
(Or at least, can't we
twist again like we did last summer?)
And while we're on the subject,
would it be too much to ask,
pleese, for an image?
I mean we're making this poem, see,
so produce a man on a ledge,
buttered toast on a serving tray.
Words, give me danger, then
gimme something to eat.
And I want an end that surprises
and matters somehow... I know,
the poet Lummis goes down in battle
and a monument springs up
at the spot where she fell.
Also, try to drum up the new
real language, so this won't be
some blathering, flatfooted thing
like the poems I sit through at open readings.
A good simile! Or bad one!
His bright hair was parted down the middle
like the Red Sea before the grandeur of Moses...!
And muster some wit, will you, or failing that,
plain, proletariat humor. A joke!
No one who?
No one/der this house looks unfamiliar, I'm on the wrong street. But since
here, Stranger, may I come in for a glass of cognac with crushed ice? I
mention my name -- Nhowan Hoo, the private eye from the new Korean paper-
back series, and this is my story...
Damn, I'm digressing again!
Words, you digress!
You lead me on, astray, thither
then hither down Primrose Lane
past the statuary, past
the cupid boy shouldering
a platter of grapes, straight
into a La Brea tar pit!
Words fail me.
You hear that, Words?
I've had it with you.
I'm severing our relationship.
Pack your bags. Take a hike.
Make yourself scarce. Hit
the road, Jack. Blow
town. Split the spot. Buzz
off, push off. Get lost.
Get thee behind me. Get
thee to a nunnery Scram... I'm
sorry! Sorry...! Words,
Suzanne Lummis's book In Danger was published by Roundhouse Press in their California Poetry Series. She has poems forthcoming in the Knopf anthology, "Poems of the West," edited by Robert Mezey and part of their Everyman Series, and in an anthology to be published by Otis Art School, Place as Purpose: Poetry of the West. edited by Paul Vangelisti. She's the director of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and a founding member of the text based performance troupe Nearly Fatal Women. She teaches with the UCLA Extension and at Loyola Marymount University.