“Any fool can get into an ocean . . .”

By Jack Spicer 1925–1965 Jack Spicer
Any fool can get into an ocean   
But it takes a Goddess   
To get out of one.
What’s true of oceans is true, of course,
Of labyrinths and poems. When you start swimming   
Through riptide of rhythms and the metaphor’s seaweed
You need to be a good swimmer or a born Goddess
To get back out of them
Look at the sea otters bobbing wildly
Out in the middle of the poem
They look so eager and peaceful playing out there where the
    water hardly moves
You might get out through all the waves and rocks
Into the middle of the poem to touch them
But when you’ve tried the blessed water long
Enough to want to start backward
That’s when the fun starts
Unless you’re a poet or an otter or something supernatural
You’ll drown, dear. You’ll drown
Any Greek can get you into a labyrinth
But it takes a hero to get out of one
What’s true of labyrinths is true of course
Of love and memory. When you start remembering.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2008).

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

July/August 2008
 Jack  Spicer

Biography

Although known primarily among a coterie of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time of his death in 1965, Jack Spicer has slowly become a towering figure in American poetry. He was born in Los Angeles in 1925 to midwestern parents and raised in a Calvinist home. While attending college at the University of California-Berkeley, Spicer met fellow poets Robin Blaser and Robert Duncan. The friendship among these three poets . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Arts & Sciences, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Poetry & Poets, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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