Albert’s poem starts off elegantly:
The whole of it is winged, . . .
and honestly if the poem continued on as elegantly I would likely put it down. But instead it dips away:
of speaking about large things
in pocket size
you do it by letting likeness creep in,
makes me resemble you
the other way round it’s goodbye
to truth, which
feels quiet at first.
You know it’s kind of a love poem. The title is the same as the first surge of the first line. It’s called “The Whole of it is Winged.” The thing doesn’t land and someone is happily explaining how something they love works and it is also a poem about poetry. Mostly it’s a small masterpiece of plain speech. The speaker of the poem is telling the reader how to “do it.” Yet its muscular plainness is what’s being said. “Winged” is the only fancy word in the whole poem and it’s not so much fancy as antique. I think of the Zeffirelli “Romeo and Juliet “(1968) : “All are punish-ed” the man in the flowing gown boomed at the crowd. I suppose someone could hear “wingd” in their head as one syllable, but I get a mini history of the English language in the two-syllable version, “wing-ed” and otherwise I think the line is pretty much unpronounceable and poem is a script, is it not and meanwhile in terms of this poem the rest is a breeze. Why? Well because of sound. Science and size, goodbye and quiet. All of these words are friends. And then you and you and truth. It’s not often that I think about why a poem is such a dance, that each line or revolution of my eyes around the cylinder of the page grabbing on like hands – or tongue and groove all of that having likely occurred I’m now disposed to consider vaguely what the poet might be saying. What is Albert Mobilio saying. That his song is in his hands. His poem is kind of the hand of the mind.
Now look at the next stanza. There’s only two. It’s a small poem:
how easily we play the squeezebox,
step wide and bow
. . .our song is
a perilous thrust, a pistol really,
handheld in consequence
so much easier to aim.
Do we kill anyone with poems? We could. Yet finally it’s the difference between admiring one’s car, the fine silent engine of it or on the other hand deciding to mow people down, just for the fuck of it, behind the wheel of it. I feel like Albert’s poem - in its simplicity, in its handsome ardor and its clarity of intention: “I didn’t kill” is a tiny revolution which he salutes here in a most mortal way.
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...