Rotting Symbols

By Eileen Myles Eileen Myles
Soon I shall take more
I will get more light
and I'll know what I think
about that

Driving down Second Ave. in a car
the frieze of my hand
like a grandmother
captured in an institution
I know I'll never live here again etc.
many many long years ago
Millions of peeps in the scrawl
the regular trees
the regular dog snort &
dig. In the West Village
you could put on a hat
a silly hat & it's clear
whereas over here
20 years passed
that rotting hat
it's loyalty to someone or something
that's really so gone
the moment clenched
like religion or government.
Wait a minute. I prefer
umm a beatle's cap
when it's really really old
neighborhood devoted to that.

Poetry is a sentimental act
everything spring she said
being surrounded by so much rot.
Pages & pages
mounds of them that I'm in
not some library but in your
little home, like you.
Every season I know I'm leaving
I'm as loyal as the cross
to this smeltering eccentricity
down by the river with Daddio
toss your ball in the river
in the future over bridges
they say you have to imagine
the 20th century. All these buildings were colored
a blasted interior
scarlet curtains rattling day
cobwebs on inexplicable machinery
a theater once dwelled here
all I see is rotting ideas
the epics I imagined
the unified cast of everyone
eating turkey together
on a stage
my idea
like waters towers popping up
feeling mellow
not exactly nothing all this time
but the buildings that are absolute
gone that I never
described. You can't kill
a poet. We just get erased &
written on. It aches in
my brain, my back
this beauty I'm eating my toast
everyone I knew you would
be dead tomorrow
& you were. The composing camera
infatuated with the shovel
on the lid & the pile
of rocks. He is not aging
same Alexandrian
blond in Bini-bons
the sirens are gods
when I lifted my head
from my swarming difficulty
You were so marvelous
bringing those toys to my feet
in between the invisibility of
the constant production & consumption
the network of that
& apart from the mold.
You survived.

Eileen Myles, "Rotting Symbols" from School of Fish, published by Black Sparrow Press (Godine). Copyright © 1997 by Eileen Myles.  Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: School of Fish (Black Sparrow Press, 1997)

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Poet Eileen Myles

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

 Eileen  Myles

Biography

Eileen Myles was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1949, was educated in Catholic schools, graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Boston in 1971, and moved to New York City in 1974 to be a poet. She gave her first reading at CBGB's, and then gravitated to St. Mark's church where she studied with Ted Berrigan, Alice Notley and Bill Zavatsky. She has published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and fiction including Not . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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