"When I used to focus on the worries, everybody"

By Joanne Kyger b. 1934 Joanne Kyger
When I used to focus on the worries, everybody
                      was ahead of me, I was the bottom
                of the totem pole,
              a largely spread squat animal.

How about a quick massage now, he said to me.
I don’t think it’s cool, I replied.
Oh, said he, after a pause, I should have waited
                     for you to ask me.

The waves came in closer and closer.

When I fall into the gap of suspicion I am no longer here.

In this world that has got closed over by houses
                       and networks, I fly out
from under the belly.     Life’s dizzy crown
of whirling lights, circles this head.    Pure
with wonder, hot
with wonder.    The streets become golden.     All
size increases, the colors glow, we are in myth.

We are in easy understanding.
Scarcely talking, thoughts pass between us.
                                    It is memory.    As I search to find
this day’s sweet drifting.    The fog out to sea, the wind.

Joanne Kyger, "[When I used to focus on the worries, everybody...]" from About Now: Collected Poems, published by the National Poetry Foundation. Copyright © 2007 by Joanne Kyger.  Reprinted by permission of Joanne Kyger.

Source: About Now: Collected Poems (National Poetry Foundation, 2007)

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Poet Joanne Kyger b. 1934


 Joanne  Kyger


Associated with the poets of the San Francisco Renaissance, poet Joanne Kyger studied philosophy and literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara, moving to San Francisco in 1957 just before she finished her degree. In San Francisco she attended the Sunday meetings of poets Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan, and moved into the East West House, a communal house for students of Zen Buddhism and Asian studies. She lived in . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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