Thursday, July 16, 2009

Poem for Thursday

By Donald Hall

Twenty-five years ago, Kurt Schwitters,
I tried to instruct you in baseball
but kept getting distracted, gluing
bits and pieces of world history
alongside personal anecdote
instead of explicating baseball's
habits. I was K.C. (for Casey)
in stanzas of nine times nine times nine.
Last year the Sox were ahead by twelve

in May, by four in August--collapsed
as usual--then won the Series.
Jennifer, who loved baseball, enjoyed
the game on TV but fell asleep
by the fifth inning. She died twelve years
ago, and thus would be sixty now
watching baseball as her hair turned white.
I see her tending her hollyhocks,
gazing west at Eagle Pond, walking

to the porch favoring her right knee.
I live alone with baseball each night
but without poems. One of my friends
called "Baseball" almost poetry. No
more vowels carrying images
leap suddenly from my excited
unwitting mind and purple Bic pen.
As he aged, Auden said that methods
of dry farming may also grow crops.

When Jennifer died I had nightmares
that she left me for somebody else.
I bought condoms, looking for affairs,
as distracting as Red Sox baseball
and even more subject to failure.
There was love, there was comfort; always
something was wrong, or went wrong later
--her adultery, my neediness--
until after years I found Lauren.

When I was named Poet Laureate,
the kids of Danbury School painted
baseballs on a kitchen chair for me,
with two lines from "Casey at the Bat."
In fall I lost sixty pounds, and lost
poetry. I studied only "Law
and Order." My son took from my house
the eight-sided Mossberg .22
my father gave me when I was twelve.

Buy two pounds of cheap fat hamburger
so the meatloaf will be sweet, chop up
a big onion, add leaves of basil,
Tabasco, newspaper ads, soy sauce,
quail eggs, driftwood, tomato ketchup,
and library paste. Bake for ten hours
at thirty-five degrees. When pitchers
hit the batter's head, Kurt, it is called
a beanball. The batter takes first base.

After snowdrifts melted in April,
I gained pounds back, and with Lauren flew
to Paris, eating all day: croissants
warm, crisp, and buttery, then baguettes
Camembert, at last boeuf bourguignon
with bottles of red wine. Afternoons
we spent in the Luxembourg Gardens
or in museums: the Marmottan!
The Pompidou! The Orangerie!

The Musee de la Vie Romantique!
The Louvre! The d'Orsay! The Jeu de
Paume! The Musee Maillol! The Petit
Palais! When the great Ted Williams died,
his son detached his head and froze it
in a Scottsdale depository.
In summer, enduring my dotage,
I try making this waterless farm,
Meatloaf, with many ingredients.

In August Lauren climbs Mt. Kearsarge,
where I last clambered in middle age,
while I sit in my idle body
in the car, in the cool parking lot,
revising these lines for Kurt Schwitters,
counting nine syllables on fingers
discolored by old age and felt pens,
my stanzas like ballplayers sent down
to Triple A, too slow for the bigs.


Another from this week's New Yorker.

I had a very nice morning with my family, Gblvr, and Hufflepants, going to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (see previous entry for commentary on the movie). Paul was originally going to take the morning off but then he decided to come out to lunch with us and ended up taking the afternoon off too. The theater we went to was not terribly organized for an early show -- the building doors were locked, and though the film was on one of the upstairs screens, only the downstairs box office was open, while only the upstairs Fandango printers worked -- but the theater wasn't even full, so it didn't end up mattering. After the film, we took Gblvr out for her birthday at Tara Thai. I sat with the fangirls and let my men sit by themselves, hee.

The kids went to the pool in the afternoon while Paul and I did some chores at home. In the evening, since we were just in New Orleans, we watched Live and Let Die, which was even worse than I remembered...I take a high level of sexism for granted in Bond movies, and I actually prefer the pre-Dalton films which were much less violent than the later ones, but the racist stereotypes are beyond painful and the depiction of Voudou is beyond embarrassing. Still, the movie has a funeral second line in the French Quarter, a boat chase through a bayou in Slidell near the one where we took the swamp tour, and some fabulous Zulu costumes. Speaking of which, from the Presbytere in New Orleans...

Costume worn by Desiree Glapion Rogers, now the White House social secretary, who served as Queen Zulu twice, the second time as a tribute to her father -- onetime Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club president Roy E. Glapion, Jr.

The Louisiana State Museum has a yearly exhibit, "From Tramps To Kings: 100 Years of Zulu," at the Presbytere, as well as a permanent exhibit on Mardi Gras costume design.

"From Tramps to Kings" has dozens of items loaned by Zulu members, including the outfits and headdresses of 14 former Zulu Kings and Queens plus some of their court members.

Dumbledore...all right, actually Merlin the Wizard, a costume made and worn by Garron Lenaz of the Krewe of Petronius, New Orleans' oldest gay Carnival krewe.

This seahorse costume was made by Jim Schexnayder and Derek Maenza for Bill McLemore for the ball of the Krewe of Amon-Ra, another gay Carnival krewe.

This costume was made by Larry Youngblood for New Orleans native Harry Connick, Jr. when he was King of the Krewe of Bacchus in 1993.

This domino costume -- traditional for Carnival in Venice since the 17th century, when monks wore oversized hoods to protect themselves from bad weather -- was made by Heather Pennington in 1999.

Here are my kids with the oversized figures in the entranceway of the Presbytere.

No comments: