213th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 213th 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 2013 Dive Into Poetry Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Check out the stops on the 2013 National Poetry Month Blog Tour and the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Today’s poem is from Robert Polito from Doubles:

What the Dead Know

Air here is like the water
Of an aquarium that’s been lived in for a while—clear and still
                             Beyond the rigors
Of glass; appearing cold (and clear) as spring streams
                             Fed by snow and ice,
But unexpectedly warm to feel, and inviting; side-lit—
                             A vitality of shadows
Once you come into it, and long bars of light
                             Burning like spots,
Remarkable for the absence of dust in their sharp crossfires;
                             Heavy, as crystal
Is heavy, as if to move here would mean pushing against a force
                             Palpable, and strong;
Yet rich with prospects of life, comfortable
                             With the idea of life,
As if, put on its slide, every drop is stocked with wonders,
                             Swarming, about to burst—

                             Beautiful in a way,
One element sustaining another, our message brought home
                             So that the living
Might come to see. Harder to say that without them
                             We are nothing—
Water without air; or to speak of our isolation,
                             Or our special loneliness;
Or say as they look right through us, at their plants,
                             Pictures, books,
Windows, reflections, and blank white walls,
                             That we need them,
To orient ourselves and to tell us who we are;
                             Or that with each look
They are swimming to within our sights; or that we are always casting
                             Wider and wider
And that even now they are fighting to avoid our nets.

What do you think?


  1. I had more fun reading the indented lines by themselves…and liked that version of the poem better!

  2. I know I am a less is more demon : ). But in this case, I really feel less could be more. The poet doesn’t trust that one metaphor or simile is enough. So it undermines the authority of what is good, or, to put it differently, distracts the reader from the great imagery. I’m sorry I don’t have time to point out what, but I can, if ever useful (I edited this as I read). Anyway…..thanks for keeping this site alive, Serena. I think that poetry is the most radical edge of thinking. (Rarely can a novel accomplish this.)

    : )


    Denken ist ein einsames Geschäft.
    Thinking is a lonely business,
    Heidegger as said to Hannah
    Arendt in the movie.

    • There seems to be a great deal of clarification going on with this poem…trying to pinpoint something that is just out of reach — perhaps that’s intentional?