i would like to recommend these people's writing, lines I wish I'd written, poems, poetry mixtape

Poetry Mixtape for December 2010

Being the 6th in a list of poems I founded on the internets and which I liked the look of…

Bob Hicok – An Old Story

It’s hard being in love
with fireflies. I have to do
all the pots and pans.

Bob Hicok is one of those guys who simultaneously makes me want to quit writing poetry forever and keep writing it until I die or become half as good a poet, whichever comes first (and in my cups I often think it’ll be the former). But enough about me – this short poem has a fantastic impact and the kind of depth and detail that makes you go back and read its 15 lines over and over and over again while trying to work out how he makes it feel fresh, funny, sad and beautiful no matter how many times you reread it. Do I gush? I do, I confess, but it’s not my fault. I blame Bob.

Austin Kleon – Google Me


Kleon’s stuff is a nice twist on the cutup poem, in which he blacks out newspaper articles and leaves certain words and phrases unblacked to create/reveal poems. “Google Me” has a great 21C sense of arrogance that hits the mark perfectly.

Billy Collins – Litany

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

I’ve read a lot of people bagging out Billy Collins for his Hallmark sentimentality and I can imagine that reading a lot of his stuff in one sitting would maybe get a bit samey, but as a standalone piece this is funny and clever, and hearing Collins read it in his humble, vaguely puzzled and not-very-poetry-voice voice, as well as his rambly introduction, is quite charming.

Bonus: Click the link in the right-hand menu to hear an amazingly precocious (and by-now-slightly-internet-famous) three-year-old recite the poem from memory.

The Doobie Brothers – What a Fool Believes

She had a place in his life
He never made her think twice
As he rises to her apology
Anybody else would surely know
He’s watching her go

A perfect encapsulation of the self-deception of nostalgia and unrequited love. ‘Nuff said.

Patricia Lockwood + Elegant Choice – Stunt Cat

…And now he must leap
on the limb of a tree, and now he is held
in the mouth of a dog, and now he must let
a child ride him…

Lockwood and her collaborator (real name unknown) knock one out of the park with this surreal meditation on what must be one of the most surreal occupations around.

To his Mistress Going to Bed – John Donne

In such white robes, heaven’s angels used to be
Received by men; thou, Angel, bring’st with thee
A heaven like Mahomet’s Paradise; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
By this these angels from an evil sprite:
Those set our hairs on end, but these our flesh upright.

Oh, Mr. Donne. You had me at “hairy diadem”, but your assertion that the best way to tell if someone is an angel or a devil is the presence or absence of an erection just made my day.

4 thoughts on “Poetry Mixtape for December 2010”

  1. Dear Adam,
    I use the word dear
    and feel old
    old as in a girl, not
    the girl with thirty
    candles, but the girl
    the one who still
    thinks rising
    flesh is not rude
    and when Hicok
    talks of fireflies I
    think love is like
    that and not what it
    is (pots and pans)
    and it’s all your
    Yours, mix-tape fan,

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