Skip to main content

a little Pound for your day's commute

“In a Station of the Metro”

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Alas, I’m not in Paris; I’m not in Washington DC. I’m not in a large city or even near one with underground transit for the masses. Or for today’s DC version, the rich (see a recent Harper’s index for the $109K median wage for DC subway riders). I grew up with Philadelphia’s North-South Broad Street Line, its East-West elevated line, and a small web of subway-surface cars (“trolleys”) surfacing in University City and extending into Southwest Philadelphia. So I can’t say I ever lived permanently in a city whose mass transit is dominated by an entire web of underground trains like New York City or Paris. I have visited New York a bunch of times, and I’ve been lucky enough to live for a summer in both Paris and Seoul, South Korea. I’ve experienced the thrill of navigating a complex web of subways in a language extremely foreign to one’s native tongue. I’ve lost my way.

Pound’s poem suggests we do not need to know subways to know our fellow “apparitions” and “petals.” We do not need to stand apart or mingle upon a platform with a group of commuters. We can be connected to the “wet, black bough” even if we cannot skip over the turnstile or pay the local fares. We do not even need the rain.

When I read the poem, I hear the last line fighting the first line while the title cries out, “I am a line of this poem too.” And I hear the famous story of Pound trimming the fat of a much longer poem and ending with these two lines. And I consider Pound’s own sad ending outside DC, his second stay in a city with a Metro. And I wonder what views Pound would express if he were active in radio politics today. Could a man who could write like this sound as superficial as a Rush Limbaugh or Neil Bortz or any of our failed “liberal” radio hosts?

As you were, poetry.


Popular posts from this blog

Top Ten Russian Novels!

L.U.S.K. is excited to feature a guest post from Aisha O'Connor-Fratus, writer, editor, parent, and blogger at Hell's Domestic Backside. Enjoy this list of Aisha's ten favorite Russian novels:
1. Anna Karenina (Lev Tolstoy, 1873 to 1877). Anna is rich and bored. Anna hates the way her husband chews his food. Count Vronsky—played by Christopher Reeve, so handsome) sweeps Anna off her feet! But things do not end well for Anna.
2. The Brothers Karamazov (Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1880). Not about a traveling circus acrobatic troupe. Its sweeping explorations of God, free agency, and morality are timeless and haunting. My favorite part is Ivan’s reciting of the poem “The Grand Inquisitor” in which Christ is resurrected during the Spanish Inquisition.
3. Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky, 1866). Life-long graduate student Rodion Raskolnikov tries to justify an unspeakably immoral act with eugenics and hey—a guy needs to eat.
4. Rudin (Ivan Turgenev, 1856). Dmitry Rudin talks the talk, but…

Happy Fourth of July from Henry Miller

I think it was the Fourth of July when they took the chair from under my ass again. Not a word of warning. One of the big muck-a-mucks from the other side of the water had decided to make economies; cutting down on proofreaders and helpless little dactylos enabled him to pay the expenses of the trips back and forth and the palatial quarters he occupied at the Ritz. After paying what little debts I had accumulated among the linotype operators and a goodwill token at the bistro across the way, in order to preserve my credit, there was scarcely anything left out of my final pay. I had to notify the patron of the hotel that I would be leaving; I didn't tell him why because he'd have worried about his measly two hundred francs.

~~ from Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer

The Writing Life Starring Iain Levison

Iain Levison's Dog Eats Dog was published in October, 2008 by Bitter Lemon Press and his even newer novel How to Rob an Armored Car will be published by Soho Press in October, 2009. Back in '00 or so, L.U.S.K. first discovered Levison's A Working Stiff's Manifesto in hardcover with its original subtitle, "Confessions of a Wage Slave." That memoir established Levison's scalding wit and ability to hold the attention of an ever-tweeting audience. It was later released as a trade paperback with a supercharged second subtitle, and Levison has managed to survive, publish, and publish again. With long-terms roots in Scotland and Philadelphia, Levison currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina where he commits literature and carpentry as much as he can.

USK: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and when did you first identify as a writer?
IL: Writing is the only thing I've ever been any good at. Well, the only legal thing. Early on, I realized t…