Notches on my bookshelf.

Yawn, I’m bored with my own writing. I flung the challenge out to you, my good readers. What should I write about? Sarah W. came through.

Stipulating a time machine and unlimited amounts of soap, hot water, Laytex/Teflon prophylactics, modern antibiotics, and persuasive powers:

Which dead poet(s) (limit 3) would you totally tap?

Hm. Byron might be good in bed, or he might have just been all talk. Ditto Donne. Keats, though, I love him no matter what he’s like in bed. But even more than Keats, who was something of a late-teen obsession for me, is Rilke. Look at the level of detail here. How would that translate to other spheres?

from Before Summer Rain

Suddenly, from all the green around you,

something—you don’t know what—has disappeared;

you feel it creeping closer to the window,

in total silence. From the nearby wood


you hear the urgent whistling of a plover,

reminding you of someone’s “Saint Jerome”:

so much solitude and passion come

from that one voice, whose fierce request the downpour


will grant

Shakespeare! If I had the will and the way…in my days studying Shakespeare’s sonnets I learned all about bawdy Shakespeare. Not only were the first 19 (? how far we have fallen) sonnets written to a pretty young man, “nothing” and “will” are slang terms for lady and gentleman parts.

Yes, “Much Ado About Nothing” is in fact really “Much Ado About Pussy.” And Mr. Shakespeare did love to make jokes about his own name. Where there is a Will there is a way. Long story short, I’d sleep with Shakespeare in a second.

And then I let my mind wander to more recent times. My third poet would be H.D. Hilda Doolittle was the daughter of an astronomy professor at University of Pennsylvania. And she was bisexual. And wrote beautiful poems. I love H.D.

Toward the Piraeus


If I had been a boy,

I would have worshipped your grace,

I would have flung my worship

before your feet,

I would have followed apart,

glad, rent with an ecstasy

to watch you turn

your great head, set on the throat,

thick, dark with its sinews,

burned and wrought

like the olive stalk,

and the noble chin

and the throat.


I would have stood,

and watched and watched

and burned,

and when in the night,

from the many hosts your slaves,

and warriors and serving men

you had turned

to the purple couch and the flame

of the woman, tall like the cypress tree

that flames sudden and swift and free

as with crackled of golden resin

and cones and the locks flung free

like the cypress limbs,

bound, caught and shaken and loosed,

bound, caught and riven and bound

and loosened again

as in rain of a kingly storm

or wind full from a desert plain.

So, when you had risen

from all the lethargy of love and its heat,

you would have summoned me,

me alone,

and found my hands,

beyond all the hands in the world,

cold, cold, cold,

intolerably cold and sweet.

Whom do you love?



5 responses to “Notches on my bookshelf.

  1. Ben Johnson, because he’s a big, brash, drunken, teddy bear with a brain.

    Alexander Pope, because he was a brilliant, sarcastic, little shit and a loyal friend.

    Claude McKay, because his poetry either ignites my rage or melts everything else into a nice, warm, waiting puddle.

  2. Keats! Me, too, with Keats! I don’t care if he doesn’t think rightly about women. But also Donne. Definitely Donne. I would be his America.

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