Just a quick Poetry Wednesday before I head off to work! I might have picked Leslie Adrienne Miller off the shelves because we share a first name, but then I became enchanted with her poetry. I absolutely love it! Her book is entitled The Resurrection Trade and I am going to share with you today the poem “Speaking of the Devil”, though it was very difficult to choose one.
SPEAKING OF THE DEVIL
Just when I begin to believe English is lucky,
full of choices like trumpet and ash, curlicue,
olive, armrest and hostile, I see that its vastness
is urban, lonely: too many people live in its center,
and the environs are losing population fast.
Few are interested in leaving the inner cities of language,
so each tongue shrinks, deletes its consummate
geographies, copse and dell, ravine and fen,
boonies, coulées, bailiwicks, and sloughs.
But English is not the only shrinking province.
I watch two French boys on the train
from Turin to Nice burn a pair of earphones,
delighted as the plastic withers, whitens,
sends up its little wick of toxic smoke. Watch
and wow and fuck, all the words they need to test
the butane’s power to make plastic disappear.
Not sure if I can understand their chat, they test me too.
The one with his thumb on the flame looks at me
from under lavish lashes, merest shadow
of mustache riding his budded lips, Diable,
he asks me, how you say him in English?
and I marvel at how few syllables
anyone needs to make a world.
Man, I love this poem. It’s perfect. A killer ending, a beautiful transition and the conceit of language as world/city/country gets me every time. Did you like “Speak of the Devil”?