Wednesday, February 2, 2011


With dark cloud cover looming low again every single day, I can think of nothing but litany poems. Everything seems to be repetition. Nothing seems to have much of a point except drinking or dancing or anything that, at least for the moment, might bring me out of the moment...

So I offer you Mary Ruefle's poem "Merengue":

I'm sorry to say it, but fucking
is nothing. To the gods, we look
like dogs. Still, they watch.
Did you lose your wallet?
Did you rip up the photo?
Did you pick up the baby
and kiss its forehead?
Did you drive into a deer?
Did you hack at the grass
as if it could kill you?
Did you ask your mother for milk?
Did you light the candles?
Did you count the buttons on your shirt?
Were you off by one? Did you start again?
Did you learn how to cut a pineapple,
open a coconut?
Did you carry a body once it had died?
For how long and how far?
Did you do the merengue?
Did you wave at the train?
Did you finish the puzzle, or save it for morning?
Did you say something? Would you repeat it?
Did you throw the bottle against the wall?
Did it break? Did you clean it up?
Did you tear down the web? What did you do
with the bug the spider was saving?
Did you dive without clothes into cold water?
Have you been born?
What book will you be reading when you die?
If it's a good one, you won't finish it.
If it's a bad one, what a shame.

I'm reading two books that I don't want to be reading when I die because then, well, "what a shame." How about you? Are you reading a good one? What do you figure your chances are for getting to finish it?


Harriet M. Welsch said...

I am reading a good book: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenburg. It is one of the better examples of both the blogger-turned-book-writer and memoir-with-recipes categories.

FreshHell said...

What books are you reading?

I finished our first book club book and have been reading stuff that is just research for the novel - history, Titanic stuff, etc. So, I'm in between books.

I got Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin from the library yesterday so I'll begin that today, probably. Almost done with the Titanic oral history.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

This is such a great, ugh, I am sic of winter, poem. I'm just finishing Reading Women by Stephanie Staal, which I like a lot. I'm not sure what I am going to start next.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, and I think it's a very good book. It's such a good book that every thing I think about -- this poem, my conversation at lunch yesterday -- resonates with what it's making me think about. It's such a good book that when I'm doing something else -- washing the dishes or getting dressed or talking to someone -- I remember that I'd heard something interesting lately, and then I remember that it's the book I'm reading.

Ella said...

I love that - "books I don't want to be reading when I die". Right now I'm reading a book about Asperger's called "American Normal", but I don't think I would be extremely upset about missing the last 3 chapters.

Awesome choice of poem!

Jeanne said...

Harriet, mmm I like a book with recipes.

FreshHell, I've been reading a nonfiction book loaned to me by a friend, The Golden Spruce, and the sequel to Dark Water's Embrace, which wasn't as good as the first one.
I finished The Seduction of Water already, too, and liked it aside from the ideal adjunct picture.

Kim, there's a bit of irony in how I was sick of winter. I had this post ready to go, and Blogger posted it this morning automatically while I was huddled in front of the fire with no power since midnight. We just got our power restored this afternoon at 4:30. I am now very happy to have heat and light. It doesn't seem usual. There's a lesson there!

ReadersGuide, so you're not ticked off by Patty the way I was?

Avid Reader said...

I love this poem and I'm with you on the awful weather. I'm reading War & Peace and I'm guess that a lot of people die while reading that one.

Jeanne said...

Ella, those final two lines are the ones I thought would resonate with the bookish folks who usually come by here!
I thought the question of whether you'd be sad to die in the middle of what you're reading was timely. Once people get the winter blahs, it seems like it takes a more than usually good book to take them out of it.

Jeanne said...

Avid Reader, would you regret dying without finishing it? I started a couple of books by lantern light but didn't get interested in any of them. Actually, Eleanor spent a good part of the day reading Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It to us out loud.

Mumsy said...

I'm curled up on the couch with an injured foot, reading Georgette' Heyer's The Convenient Marriage. Totally okay with that being the book I read as I die. The divine Georgette has added much joy to this mortal coil.

Stay warm!

Jeanne said...

Mumsy, sorry about your injured foot, but glad you had a good book to curl up with. I had never heard of Heyer before reading book blogs, and wasn't convinced until your comment that she's someone I need to try.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I'm possibly too much like Patty to be ticked off by her.

Jeanne said...

Readersguide, Aren't you ever like some kind of Victorian heroine in that the things that most tick you off in fictional characters can be the things you see as your own weaknesses and moral failings?

I think you're much less silly than Patty is. And your husband seems nicer.

Trapunto said...

I'd be okay with dying while I'm reading a book like the one I'm reading now: Mrs Quent and the Magicians. It's well written, but an *utterly* shameless pastiche of well-known 19th century fiction; I know exactly how it's going to end--sort of makes it a compromise between a good book and a bad one.

I wish you a book that will not only bring you out of the moment, but will knock you out of your socks! Aren't there any emergency backups you've been saving?

Trapunto said...

Oops, The Magicians and Mrs Quent. You see how invested I am.

Jeanne said...

Trapunto, I've been sampling the beginnings of some of my as-yet-unread Christmas present books, but nothing has really grabbed me. I think it's probably me, and not the books.
I'm at about the mental level of the tv show Big Bang Theory, which a friend of mine recommended and I've been watching and laughing at. Now the kids want to have a super bowl party--not because we watch football, but because they want to watch Glee afterwards. I'm against staying up that late, but told them they could do it if no one got sick by tomorrow morning. They haven't been at school since Monday, so I think they're going to get to do it.

Trapunto said...

Yes! Big Bang Theory is good! My sister recommended it to me. We don't have real TV, so Der Mann and I watch each season as it comes out on DVD, work up an appetite between seasons. Hesitate to say this, but it goes really, really well with a little good whiskey. Our current escape is Veronica Mars. You know a TV series is good when you think about the last episode you watched during the day. Also we were strangely obsessed with the first season of Magnum P.I. this fall, a show we never saw when it aired. Plot and the rest is pretty much fluff, but it's period culture-and-scenery ambrosia. It so makes me want to visit Hawaii as it was in 1979. Does it help you to *look* and gently breeze-tossed tropical foliage, or just make the winter grimmer by contrast?

Jeanne said...

Trapunto, We have something like 8 cable channels since my firstborn went to first grade and her "homework" was to watch the Olympic games. (That was my first warning about the public schools.) But I hate figuring out what time something is on and going downstairs then and having to watch commercials, so all my TV is on DVD. I have the first season of Veronica Mars but haven't started watching it yet. I do like to see tropical foliage. Once a year I watch the movie Body Heat in February, and I always visit this blog to see Hawaiian vegetation: