|STILL LIFE WITH VICODIN
Maybe there is no magic, no Technicolor,
Ask me anything, I will tell you the truth.
Even the night watchman is not immune.
Inside the throat,
THE NEW CARTOGRAPHY
This is about borage and compline, anything to still the mind.
In Pieces of Paper, Wallace Stevens listed several titles of poems he would never actually write. For a piece in the collection, Trouble In Mind, Lucie Brock-Broido borrowed one of these titles, that is, "Still Life with Aspirin." On bedrest after a fairly considerable surgery (thankfully, off the hydrocodone that inspired me to turn the volume up a little with my own title), I decided to see what kind of world would open up for me, if I attempted a "Still Life with Vicodin."
As far as "The New Cartography" is concerned, shortly after Elizabeth Bishop's centenary...2.8.11...coinciding with various new publications (the complete correspondence with The New Yorker, for example), a huge Poetry Society of America event at Cooper Union, and literary salons (one of them inviting Richard Howard and Gabrielle Calvocoressi to speak about the work, and person, and the legacy), I was re-reading the collected poems. One word in the poem, "The Bight," set me to work on this piece. (The word was marl, and marl led me to sedge, and the sound of sedge led me to borage—a popular cure for melancholy in the middle ages, apparently—and off I headed with the first full-line I drafted, "Never mind the reed and sedge. I have a compass and corkscrew, two blankets to keep us warm."