Connie Voisine

The Self After Modernism

The poem I write will be better. This one starts
in a hopeful manner, but soon feels lost
or thin. True, I have been prodigal, wandered
through foreign lands, and I have spent all my money
on silly things I should not have
(a purse with cats on it, terrible Mexican candies, an ancient blue
station wagon, a permanent wave), but
I swear this poem will be better,
though historically
I am quite lazy and won’t comb my hair
unless I have to. I do not sweep under the bed
and would eat pastry everyday if there was a good
bakery. I say I’ll write a better poem, even though
this afternoon, a gregarious spring day
bounding across the park, over its swing set and
gazebo and into
my windows, I lie on the couch,
unable to commit to anything except my poem’s
potential—it should have a looseness
that lately I admire, language that, nonetheless,
is acute, and a range beyond the personal
foibles of its maker. The poem I will write
will be better than this
middle section that gets fatter, flabby.
I feel responsible for it, the poem I will write,
which I can imagine with ultrasound clarity,
something fierce and kicking in the darkness.
Watch the poem swing its little arms, open its mouth
to a vast, fetal silence.
For mental hygiene, I listen to a recorded lecture on Surrealism
which tells me I am a constant
collage, a brilliant and ever-changing work in progress.
(For what else is the self after modernism?)
I am a furry teacup, a cello riding a bus,
yes and no meeting on a street corner
in Paris, incongruous or binary,
thank god! Maybe there’s some hope for this poem
if I open the door to the random, the fragmented,
the flimsy scraps that more genuinely
comprise the day, the mind, the night, the dream.
All the crazy little pieces
that will never make sense, never climb off the couch,
press a shirt and comb their hair,
walk out of the house
and get things done.

I guess I want my poem to be better
than me. I have been waiting a long time
to write this poem, which, as of yet,
is not to be trusted, still not enough words
of substance have accumulated, passed
between us. For instance, where are the symbols?
And where is that penetrating ending, when all accumulated
grief and humor
now shimmers, slick and wailing,
ready to judge the world.


  • Coda
    Simone Muench & Jackie K. White