Something Memorable in the Way of Verse

The Poets

There he sat among them
(his old friends) a walking ash
that knows how to smile.
And he still dreamed of a style
so clear it could wash a face
or make a dry mouth sing.
But they laughed, having found
themselves more astonishing.

They would drive their minds
prismatic, strange, each wrapped
in his own ecstatic wires,
over a cliff for language,
while he remained to raise
a few birds from a blank page.

Poem by Bert Meyers in Poetry, January 2023.

Bert Meyers is singled out for celebration in this issue of the magazine. The poem appears, ironically, in a journal that seems to be dominated by writers wrapped in their own ecstatic wires, to borrow Meyers’s phrase. As poems go, there’s relatively little to translate. “A walking ash”? The essay about him mentions that Meyers was a heavy smoker — indeed the habit is implicated in his relatively early death. “Drive their minds over a cliff for language” is so apt it explains itself — the perfect metaphor! — portraying a mode of recondite, self-referential versifying that the speaker dismisses in favor of unassuming eloquence. With its unemphatic rhyming and lucid phrasing the poem is graspable, coherent and concise, all of which makes it linger in the mind, and even on the tongue. I hear a flutter of wings!

(c) 2023 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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