A Way

By Rosanna Warren b. 1953 Rosanna Warren

The whole trick of this thing    ...    is to get out of your own light.
                       — Marianne Faithfull

She said she sang very close to the mike
to change the space. And I changed the space
by striding down the Boulevard Raspail at dusk in tight jeans
until an Algerian engineer plucked the pen from my back pocket.
As if you’re inside my head and you’re hearing the song from in there.
He came from the desert, I came
from green suburbs. We understood
nothing of one another over glasses of metallic red wine.
I was playing Girl. He played
Man. Several plots were afoot, all
misfiring. One had to do with my skimpy black shirt
and light hair, his broad shoulders and hunger
after months on an oil rig. Another
was untranslatable. Apollinaire
burned his fingers on June’s smoldering lyre
but I had lost my pen. The engineer
read only construction manuals. His room
was dim and narrow and no,
the story didn’t slide that way though there are many ways
to throw oneself away.
One singer did it by living by a broken wall
until she shredded her voice but still she offered each song,
she said, like an Appalachian artifact.
Like trash along the riverbank chafing at the quay
plastic bottles a torn shirt fractured dolls
through which the current chortles an intimate tune.

Source: Poetry (July/August 2014).

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

July/August 2014

Biography

Rosanna Warren was born in Fairfield, Connecticut to a pair of writers: Robert Penn Warren, a major poet and novelist, and Eleanor Clark, a prize-winning author of criticism, fiction, and travel books. A professor of comparative literature at Boston University, editor, and literary translator, she has published four books of poetry. Her work, which ranges between the rhapsodic and cerebral, shows a deep and abiding interest in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Desire, Realistic & Complicated, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Arts & Sciences, Music

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Epigraph, Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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