Monday, June 14, 2010

Question In Red Ink - Kenneth Koch

 As contrast to the other Kenneth (Rexroth) of yesterday's poem, here is Kenneth Koch (1925 - 2002), one generation younger and from the East Coast.  He's not quite the kind of "Eastern Establishment" that Rexroth was against - in fact, Koch's own rejection of the Confessionals' (think Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton) style in favor of more avant-garde/modern is somewhat akin to Rexroth's.  Koch became part of the New York poetry scene (like Rexroth was part of San Francisco's) collaborated with painters, wrote the kind of plays that had limited audiences (and appeal), but also volumes of poetry that eventually garnered him a Bolligen Prize.  You can probably tell I am not a big fan of his, but his poetry had humor, energy, and imagery that makes one smile and go "cool!".   It's what I like about this one: memorable images that feel barely connected to each other as a tight narrative/story-line, yet, when it's overone does feel an unity that makes sense.  At least to me.
Question In Red Ink

I come to you out of an old darkness,
Smelling familiarly of sleep –
I approach you smiling keenly,
My lips typewriting noise,
But love softens me until
I move like a child in a graveyard.
     Now we are clever as history-books and discover
Beautiful talk, the laying on of hands –
I move without whistling,
Bitten by moonlight,
But when you spread your cards on the table
A wealthy darkness settles…
      Crazy with loss, I skin the idiom
And leave us naked and ashamed,
Huddling like whipped songs….

     Bettye, who set our motors so
That like Coney Island pleasure-cars
We swerve, consummating
Contact on a focal point of love
To streak away like electrons,
Careless and obscene as a broken nerve?

                                                                         Kenneth Koch - American

No comments: