Monday, June 28, 2010

Heaven, Hell, and Harvard Square

Poem of the Day:
"The Poet in Heaven" by Lynn Emanuel
The Dig and Hotel Fiesta

Excerpt from Emanuel's "The Poet in Heaven":

Dying was a breathless ride,
the billboards flying past,
and then in that dark car's
dark window, like Texaco,

bloomed Heaven's swank.
And now the moon is rising
on all my lost remembrance:
I was a sheaf of wheat

unbound, or the grass razed,
or the shadows' shuddering
run before the scythe;
that was what it was to die.

Tonight Steph and I walked to get ice cream around 10 PM. The midnight oil had just begun to burn for both of us and a sugary fix was in order. Needless to say, my brownie fudge milkshake really hit the spot.

Walking through Harvard Square at such a late hour makes for a walk with the devil; the summer night air is thick with warmth, the street lights are few, and the corners are buzzing with those for whom a bed is the curb. In many ways it is a hellish atmosphere. It is dark, hot, dirty and toothless. And the mix of drunken and hungry cries is palpable.

It is nothing like Emanuel's otherworldly "small hotel" (line 1) where the speaker's life is delicately arranged, "a place to eat at midday,/a place to have a drink at night" (lines 3-4). Harvard Square at night is much the opposite. Whereas Emanuel's speaker is "the clouds:/a storm in small white dresses,/a ghostly rout that kneels/above the cut field's eye" (lines 17-20), Harvard Square in the hour past the tenth is a sooty, concrete-laden version of hell, complete with sleepwalkers fighting their way home because they have none -- that, and insurmountable cravings for ice cream.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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