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117th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 117th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2011 Fearless Poetry Reading Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please contribute to the growing list of 2011 Indie Lit Award Poetry Suggestions, visit the stops on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour from April.

Today’s Poem is from Yusef Komunyakaa’s current collection, The Chameleon Couch: (page 113-4)

Ontology & Guinness

    Darling, my daddy's razor strop
is in my hands, & there's a soapy cloud
on my face.  I'm a man of my word.
Didn't I say, If Obama's elected,
I'll shave off this damn beard
that goes back to '68, to Chicago?
I know, I also said I'd kiss the devil,
but first let me revise this contract.
I can taste tear gas.  I hear a blur
of billy clubs when I hit the drums.
I haven't witnessed this mug shot
in decades, but I'm facing the mirror.
I'm still the same man.  Almost.
Led Zeppelin is still in my nogginbox.
Alan Watts, old guru of ghosts
& folksingers, I can still two-step
& do-si-do to Clifton Chenier.
But, in no time, this philosopher
will be going down the drain, baby.
Look at how a finely honed razor works.
I may be a taxi driver, but I know time
opens an apple seed to find a worm.
See, I told you, my word is gold,
good as making a wager against
the eternal hush.  The older I get
the quicker Christmas comes,
but if I had to give up the heavenly
taste of Guinness dark, I couldn't
live another goddamn day.  Darling,
you can chisel that into my headstone.

So what did you think?

  • I like the repetition of sounds in the poem, how it builds to headstone at the end. It has a nice rhythm to it.

    • Marie: Thanks for stopping by to check out the poem. I agree that the rhythm in this poem is very well done, but I find most of Yusef’s poems are well done in that respect.

  • The first thought that came to mind is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. He might shave his beard and change his look for the first time in years, but he’s still the same person. It also sounds like it’s the first time he’s thought back to his past in a long time, and it’s interesting how a simple act like shaving his beard will trigger those thoughts and memories.

    • Very insightful thoughts on this poem. It must have grabbed your attention. I agree with you, actually. But you’ll never guess why I selected this poem. 🙂