By Kathleen Ossip Kathleen Ossip
               amy winehouse

All song is formal, and you
Maybe felt this and decided
You’d be formal too. (The eyeliner, the beehive: formal.)

When a desire to escape becomes formal,
It’s dangerous. Then escape requires
Nullity, rather than a walk in the park or a movie.
Eventually, nullity gets harder and
Harder to achieve. After surgery, I had
Opiates. I pushed the button as often as I could.
Understood by music was how I felt. An escape
So complete it became a song. After that,
Elegy’s the only necessary form.

               steve jobs

Say you lost all your money, or turned against your ambition.
Then you would be at peace, or
Else why does the mind punish the body?
Vengeance is mind, says the body.
Ever after, you’re a mirror, “silver and exact.”

Just like the bug in a string of code, the body defies the mind
Or looks in the mirror of the mind and shudders.
Better instruments are better because they’re
Silverish but intact.

               troy davis

The clock is obdurate,
Random, and definite.
Obdurate the calendar.
You thump on the cot: another signature.

Did it didn’t do it would do it again.
And if a deferred dream dies? Please sign the petition.
Very good. Let’s hunt for a pen.
If you thump, there’s another signature and
Signatures are given freely by the signer’s hand.

               lucian freud

Lingering over
Unlovely bodies,
Couldn’t help
Intuitively rendering
A whole
Nother angel.

Facts are
Relics — an
Effect worth
Undertaking: yes,
Dear daylight?

               donna summer

Discourse that night concerned the warm-blooded love we felt.
On the divan and in the ballroom and on the terrace, we felt it.
Now virtue meant liking the look of the face we lay next to.
Never mind the sting of the winter solstice.
All discourse that night concerned the warm-blooded love we felt.

Something lifted us higher. Her little finger told her so,
Untangling, with careless skill, the flora of the sexual grove.
Master physician with a masterly joy in wrapping up
Mud-spattered, coke-dusted wounds at midnight, when it’s too
Early to stop dancing and go home. Our lily-minds soothed by her
Royalty concealed in the synthesizers in the flora of the sexual grove.

Source: Poetry (December 2013).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2013
 Kathleen  Ossip


Kathleen Ossip’s latest book is The Do-Over (Sarabande Books, 2015). She teaches at the New School and is a founding editor of the poetry review website SCOUT.

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Poems by Kathleen Ossip

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, Arts & Sciences, Architecture & Design, Music, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Elegy, Free Verse

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