Choosing a Poet's Life
Despite daunting obstacles, Colby poets pursue their solitary, creative craft
By Gerry Boyle '78
Without cable, it's just me and America drinking
from greasy bottles without a whole lot to talk about.
If she'd stop raining, I could get a swim in edgewise
before the algae blooms and abruptly we're left,
bereft of clean water as the weather gets hotter,
as America's skin peels back from her face.
Now me and my nation flip through radio stations,
hunting a haunting among all the idols.
But the noise is just noise, and she's wanting a voice
or a vision or some sort of solace. America moans,
old women become shallow the better the weather
or view. For America, my land, your land,
things aren't so Woody Guthrie anymore. And what
of the estuaries? What of the sinking cities? The species
going extinct each day numbers hundreds. Still turning
the dial, we learn nobody believes it's America's job
to bring democracy to those who need it. What do you want
from me, America stands and screams in the radio waves and
the bottle slips and smashes. I never did anything in your name,
America, and I'm pleading; take me with you when you go.
—Julia Germaine '07
Bait & Switch
I recognize a bird by its shadow over the grass.
Perhaps a swatch of color lures it into the yard,
or actual prey, an insect caught bright on a leaf.
Everything I see is camouflaged: moth a torchlit
maze, pool a glove the sun slides into, one finger
at a time. The Mongols thought a fern seed
made its bearer invisible, and Genghis Khan kept
such a seed in his ring, but it failed to cloak him
from his lovers or foes. Instead, the seed helped
him interpret the language of birds. Once a finch
told him to conquer the land of Xi Xia, so he did.
That was the old world but still a world with its
own exterior logic; birdsongs, incessant pests,
maneuvers in the garden. All these hours I pick
tomatoes, bury kelp and fish-heads in the ground.
Maybe language will always be vestigial, a trail
of light in water. And rainfall an idiom. And birds
sermonic. I will be invisible here if I want to be,
among greenery and soil, where the compost burns.
I walk through my life like a king with a fern seed
under my tongue, beneath wings that shadow my body.
—David Roderick '92
| Little Sonnet |
If the universe sends me a grip I'll drop my Ajax and say something else,
but right now's about how my full-to-bursting motherliness—my pasty yield
to the sweaty troops of me and the dad in the bed and me and me all-milky
with the rainy children in the bed—was not stupidity and was not psychosis
no matter what the braincases thought back then since like everyone else
they've got to die and hover in the milieu, making now more actually
about how the saints are going to exonerate even the braincases
since like everyone else they're fragments of salt and the dust of fish:
ghoul spit on the thigh with a real life to lose but no human honeycomb in a crib
to float around at midnight and not-lick but near-lick since the divine stillness of a child
is the very death-defiance right now is all about since it's impossible but not really
but maybe given how now is in point of fact the waning time of me going
in the opposite direction of full-to-bursting since I'm too old to grow a baby
and moreover too wary to scatter myself to infinitesimal pieces like I had all the time
in the world. And the money and the grit. The novice wherewithal. That tenderness.