Some Years in the History of Love Poetry

Two streams careened from mountains
aimlessly driven, like all lovers, searching
basin and rill, hurrying but hardly giving
the other a thought.

You forded deserts
where mud banks crackled and eased.
I crossed granite depths where trout
shifted, intent as fuses. Senso unico,

an endless aria of forward
and a thousand dialects to try—
the clatter of palm leaves or a clutch
of apples rolled across a table.

birds were passing between us carrying
warbles and tufted seeds. Beneath
a spread of stars we found

ourselves side by side,
two fluences shading into each other
while a score of fingers scored
the delta's tranquil riot.

by Michelle Boisseau



J Cosmo Newbery said...


soubriquet said...

I've been musing about this one. Now I don't want to offend you, but this poem is a heap of poo.
I hope it's a translation, then some of its nonsense might be understandable. Just read any sentence in it. Like, what the hell's a trout doing deep in granite? How exactly, or why is a fuse intent? and what's a fuse got to do with a trout?
Careened? Nope, go back to the thesaurus, careened is not a behaviour for streams.
"Ms. Boisseau," I would say, handing back her homework, full of red pencil marks, "go home and do it again, properly this time. Leave the TV off."

soubriquet said...

Okay, I looked her up, she's not french, so no translation get-out clause.

I liked this, by her, better:
Potato Speculates on Popularity

I don't want trouble, but the rutabagas
and the turnips—especially the turnips—
are muttering Ingrate, Upstart, and throwing
me looks. Sheez, Louise. I'm hardly escarole.
So I got lots of friends? I'm adaptable,
a hard worker, and I don't ask favors.
Put them in a basket and they're bitter.
Put them in a pan, better be copper.
The butter's too pale, the pepper's too coarse.
On and on. With me if I'm forgotten,
I turn extra-spective and gregarious.
I'm not called the Dirt Apple for nothing.
I stick my necks out at any bright chink
and light out for the garden on leafy legs.

goatman said...

I don't know -- I liked the images (have you never seen a fossil Soub?)
and what else has a fuse to do but wait with intent of reaction?
Best of the new year to all.

soubriquet said...

goatman, Fossils yes, but they aren't found in granite. And then these putative fossils are also fuses?.. electrical fuses are hardly intent, they don't precipitate events, they are merely overwhelmed by them, they're asleep, not attentive, until that white hot wire bursts their tiny non-brains, and any hope of sentience is lost forever. Their only action is, by definition, their last. then there's the incendiary fuse, or the percussive, the slow smouldering, or the fast sparkling line to the powder-keg. Trout in deep granite resemble none of these. (I assume she means a deep pool surrounded by granite, rather than trout embedded deep in granite) At most, on stimulus, they'll move, suddenly.

I just thought pretty much every line was sloppily done.
A sream might career, but hardly careen. Streams are not 'driven', nor are they aimless. They're drawn, rather, by gravity.
Fording deserts? A clutch of apples? Mud banks, to me, are fairly antithetical to deserts, by the way.
Birds carrying warbles or tufted seeds? can you carry a warble?

These two fluvia have barely careened across their deserts or rattled their dateleaves on the table yet all of a sudden, missing the whole slowing down, meandering part of a mature watercourse, they're suddenly eschewing the obvious word, "confluence" and wimping out in a delta, deltas being absolutely the endgame of any stream's existence. Twenty fingers scoring... scouring? scraping, musically arranging the delta's tranquil riot....
Tranquil, yes. Delta is formed when velocity falls away, as sediments, carried by swift water are dropped as that water slows, but where's the riot? the delta's where ol' man river can no longer shimmy and strut, here in the delta, he shuffles and pauses with reedy breath.

No, I'm not going to revise my earlier marking of this poem. It goes back labelled "Sloppy work. Spend more time on the homework, less on the distractions. Think a bit more. Challenge each line. Pare it, trim it, make the effort to get it right".

red dirt girl said...

Wow. I posted this and had NO RESPONSES to it for a couple of days and then WOW 5 comments all at once. I love this poem. It reads wonderfully erotic for me. Lovers careening towards one another - YES! I have no problem with rivers cutting granite vs. rivers cutting desert .... okay so maybe the intent fuses is a little fuzzy on the metaphor. But how different the arias: palm leaves vs. a clutch of apples ??? exotic and down home ..... birds carrying warbles = songbirds for me. And as for delta .....tsk. tsk. Am I the only one around here who has read Delta of Venus by Anais Nin?? tangles, fingers, riot .... mmmmmmmmm!! Oh Yes! I love this poem.

red dirt girl said...

Hi Cosmo ...i'm hoping the poem gave you a few thrills ...!!

Soub ....it's a LOVE POEM .....!!!!!!! arggggghhhh!
but I really like her Potato poem, too!

Hi Goatman - so good to see you out and about. Happy New Year to you, too!


soubriquet said...

She has a huge delta of venus if twenty fingers can all be scrabbling about there together.

"Careening" is the hauling over of a beached wooden ship, to give access for the crew to scrape away the weed and barnacles on the bottom of the hull. This became less necessary when the practice of sheathing in copper was adopted.
Explain, please the careening of streams?

Whilst a bird may sit a clutch of eggs, we do not use clutch as a collective noun for apples.

Stop defending her, dammit, she doesn't deserve it.

red dirt girl said...

Sir Soubry:

What you defend as your literary right to dissent, I deem as poetic license. I have no problem with comparing rivers to careening, aimlessly driven vehicles. I'd pencil 'metaphor' in my own version of 'marginalia.' I concede a 'clutch' of apples may be a stretch, but I heartily defend my poet's right to stretch her own literary devices. Are you not doing exactly what Billy Collins pokes fun at in 'Marginalia' - marginalizing this poem ??!!

This is what I think: Michelle was having a casual night out at her local italian eatery. Her lover challenged her to write a poem in two minutes that incorporated a reference to the bad chianti they were swilling. Like most Americans, our intrepid poet grew up watching Disney's 'Lady and the Tramp' and, so inspired, penciled a short history of love poetry on the back of her paper cocktail napkin.

I, intrepid non-writing poet, chanced across this poem in a similar, off-the-cuff way. Honestly, what stuck in my mind? fingers and tangles and a delta ....and ooooo what a thrill those words evoked! Is this great poetry? No. Does it need to be? No. I like the riffs and the 'i'm not taking myself too seriously' vibe of the poem.

So loathe away. Here in the garden, I defend your right to criticize and my right to disagree. Senso unico ... Let's move forward!!!


soubriquet said...

It sounds like a poem, from a distance, but close up, we see it's just a hastily swept together heap of words.
With no nifty lines.

My trout seems to have blown a fuse. I think it was clutching at apples.

but hey, senso unico.....