Archive for February 2010

Full of Philodendrons

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Notes on “Marzipan for Valentine’s Day”

This poem, Marzipan for Valentine’s Day, began in sound and curry. It was originally going to be a birthday poem, the speaker in a turban and diamond pin (to rhyme with lemon), holding a rack of rare dishes and outlandish gifts. There was an armadillo and a marble fountain full of philodendrons. They weren’t exactly puns, weren’t exactly homophones, just variations of sound. The gist would be, that no matter how many offerings were presented, that it wouldn’t be enough. It wouldn’t get to the heart of the matter or to the heart of the intended. The speaker could heap up tricks and devices to attract attention to the language and himself, but it wouldn’t be enough. An early draft had as the last line, with candles on the cake, “. . . even this is not the flame you wish for.”

At one point, the rhymes were internal. There was scheme and dream and cuisine. But I missed not seeing them at the end of the line. But the conceit became stilted, trying to be smarter than everyone else instead of being generous and bringing around the platter of scallops wrapped in bacon. I was very lucky to get the “Roberto Clemente rookie card.” You tease wool. I’m thrilled that Jell-O for some reason rhymes with cello. And please note how closely “parade” follows “float.”

Marzipan for Valentine’s Day

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Granted, sometimes grandiose ideas designed as gifts
have marred the occasion. On The Fourth, thirteen fifths
of white wine, red herring and blueberry Rice Dream.
That embarrassed even me, forgetting fireworks and franks.
But I stopped casting for entrees so haute cuisine
since that Labor Day at the shore, serving you banks
of quahogs and scrod and turbot blessed with bourbon.
You nibbled at the squid and asked for “. . . tea with lemon.”

For New Year’s, I took an Irish cottage in County Clare,
with a large loom and crates of mute yarn. I dyed wool,
but you felt teased, “It’s stretching things.” On a prayer,
I winged it, a billionaire of false starts—I had to pull
out all the stops: going with marzipan, mango Jell-O
and a root beer float. In a parade of words I declared
a fawn lily is a dogtooth violet, that a metal cello
is tuned an octave below a viola. You were scared

when I picked a peach kimono of willows and peeled suns
to wear last February 14, “A troublesome display.”
So this year it’s all organic, green: expect peyote buttons,
hemp knee socks, and a mint condition Roberto Clemente
rookie card. And I’m laying out what holds up an arch—
weight, and the transferred force of gravity; trading throws
and afghans as we huddle by the fire waiting for March,
hoping my balloon string doesn’t strangle your rose.