Thursday, February 26, 2009

February Fatigue

Kim remarked on how readable George Bilgere's poem is, and compared him to Billy Collins, which is quite right, as they're both consciously in the same "school" of poetry. The introduction to Bilgere's volume Haywire (which yesterday's poem "Casablanca" is from) is written by Edward Field, an older practitioner of what I'm going to call the "readable" school.

I was overly fond of imitating Field as a graduate student, and so my poetry workshop teacher, Stanley Plumly, assigned me to read all of his poems. After I read them I came back and he asked me what I thought of them. "Well," I remember saying, "after a while, the humor gets a bit much."
"Exactly," Stan said.

But in small doses, I still love Field. Here is a poem that really strikes me at the end of February, when I'm tired all the time. I had a moment about a week ago when I went to sleep at the wheel, veering over the center line without consequence (the adrenaline jolt afterwards kept the moment from repeating). This is the time of year when I say to Ron at the end of the day "I slept all last night. But now I'm tired again." Although I've never been a person who wants to sleep in the daytime, I can almost see the appeal of naps. Instead, though, my habit is to go through part of the late afternoon with a drowsy inattention to detail that leaves me staring out the window for short stretches, until I come to myself and attend to whatever I was in the middle of trying to do.


Never to really wake up,
this is some people's burden
that those of the tireless sort
are unable to understand, when all we want
is to lie around in a state of collapse.

First and last, I told my mother
who also suffered from it,
never use the word "tired."
It's like "depressed," a dead end--
just saying it brings it on worse.

It's as if some people don't have
an outer crust of energy
that rides over the lake of exhaustion,
a level of weariness
that is always there, threatening
to rise up and swamp us,
or that we are always in danger
of sinking into.

All our kind wants to do
is lie down and rest and sleep, bone tired,
dog tired, but never like a dog,
the lively breed that wears out people like us,
jumping up as they do, alert and ready to go,
tails wagging.

One of the many nice things about living with cats, I guess, is that they also get somnolent this time of year. The new kitten jumps about enthusiastically for a couple of hours at a time, but then he'll spend another two or three hours curled up on a chair or stretched out on top of my lap (or laptop) totally spent. Maybe it's contagious.


Anonymous said...

I have definitely been identifying with those of the feline persuasion lately.

Anonymous said...

That is another lovely poem. I feel that way at the end of February and beginning of March -- I just need winter to end. I don't read a lot of poetry, but I do love poets from the "readable" school. I'm going to look for a books by both Bilgere and Field next time I'm at a bookstore.


Jeanne said...

George Bilgere is very pleasant man and I'd be pleased if more people read his poems.