Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cities of the Plain, or Dessert

Today's poem is by Kathy Pollitt, "Cities of the Plain"

After he vaporized the pleasure gardens,
The temples of Luck and Mirrors, the striped
Tents of the fortune-tellers,
After he rained down sulfur
On the turquoise bathes, the peacock market,
The street of painted boys,
Obliterated the city, with all its people,
Down to the last stray cat and curious stink,
He missed them. Killing them
Made him want to kill them again --

How cleverly they escaped him,
Hiding in the corners and laughing
Just out of sight!

Being God, he wouldn't permit himself regrets.
There would be other cities, just as wicked.
But none like Sodom, none like Gomorrah.
Probably He has been angry ever since --
Angry and lonely.

Yes, it's a bit heavy handed of me to add a picture of the Las Vegas strip, but both gambling in general and the enormous waste of water resources in that dessert are horrible to me. I know Pollitt is forgiving of human needs and that pin prick to my puritanical attitude is part of the reason I like this poem.


Marie aka Grams said...

I love the provocative poem, which offered a new way of thinking. You have shared so many poems I've never read before, and I find myself envious. Being a lover of poetry, I know it's hard to pick a favorite collection, but I'd love to hear some suggestions from you. Thanks for the inspiration.

Kass said...

This poem is perfect with the photo of Las Vegas.

June Calender said...

Marie, I buy poetry books at used book stores, library sales, etc. I read a couple poems and if they're interesting I buy the book whether I've heard of the poet or not. I especially look for the "Best..." annual anthologies and literary magazines that often sell really inexpensively. When I like a poem I copy it and put it in a folder. I've been doing this for years so I have a couple of fat folders that keep on growing.

Jonas said...

And to complete the narrative, there's this:

Lot's Wife
(after Akhmatova)

They had no time —— the just man
hurried across the bridge,
followed God's magistrate
along the black ridge.

His grieving wife lagged behind
as if she had no will,
arms heavy with useless things,
heart heavier still.

She couldn't recall if she'd shut the door,
turned off the iron; worse guilt,
she'd left behind the baby pictures,
her mother's ring, her wedding quilt.

One arm raised as if to gather
her whole life in that embrace,
tears blurring the view,
without much thought she turned her face,

became what she had shed. Who grieves
for this nameless woman, Lot's reflective wife?
I grieve.
I know holding on can cost a life.

-Margaret Kaufman

LimesNow said...

Ah, June, I laughed right out loud! I live in that desert city, and pairing the photo with the poem is just about perfect.

June Calender said...

Thanks, Jonas, I like Kaufman's poem. Since we're on a roll tomorrow and the next day I will do two Lot's wife poems, Akhmatova's and Szymborska's.

Jonas said...

I look forward to that, not being familiar with either.