Thursday, September 20, 2007

What About Comfort Poetry?

Almost everyone I know has squirreled away--an apt verb because even as I write this, I'm watching squirrels squirrel away a stash of peanuts left for that very purpose--some notion of a food that when ingested, even contemplated, will cause the metaphorical soothing hand to caress their brow.

Thus the very thought of the things I could find, even in such unlikely sources of comfort food as gas station minimarts, has the bio-feedback effect of getting my impatience foot off the gas pedal, my finger off the martyr button. Running late once for a series of what promised to be boring, time-consuming meetings, I confess to having purchased a single-serving tub of mashed potatoes (right, like those were really potatoes!) over which were poured a much less considerate white sauce than John Eaton's (from today's post) and wolfed the gelatinous mass down, realizing in the process that I'd had the microwave set way too high. You simply cannot trust gas station microwaves. But you can trust comfort food.

So it comes to me, which poets do I turn to in times of weal and woe? Is there a comfort poetry?

You bet there is, and just as is the case with comfort food, there is often no rational basis for it. F'rinstance, why would I take so much comfort from Ezra Pound's: Winter is icummin in/lhude sing goddamn/skiddeth bus and sloppeth us/what an ague hath my ham?

Not to mention E.P.'s lines: "What thou love'st well/Can never be reft from thee/What thou love's well/Is thy true heritage..."

Mashed potatoes and gravy, chocolate ice cream, creamed tuna on toast, and now, in my dotage, Surf Dogs from the stand by the beach in Carpinteria, not to forget the Island burger at the Kahua Grill, nor the occasional can of Wolf Brand chili, nor corn bread with hidden jalepeno peppers (gotta be Ortega canned). Such are the irrational natures of some of my own comfort foods. Oh, right, white asparagus spears (gotta be bottled--canned doesn't do it).

The poets? Emily Dickinson. Gerard Manley Hopkins. Yeats, William Butler Crazy Yeats; Neruda, Ramprasad, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Basho, Shall I compare thee to a Summer's Day? Go ahead, feel perfectly free to do so. Gabriella Mistral. The Eve of St. Agnes, ah, bitter chill it was...

I think it works. I am hungry just thinking about it.

Was it John Eaton's white sauce got me thinking this way, or the need for comfort, or perhaps the need for lunch.

Go figure, and while you're figuring, get ready for sunset tomorrow night. The big one's coming. Time to defrag your moral hard drive.

4 comments:

John Eaton said...

Afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted, maestro.

Oh, Ezra. Did he ever find a softer nest? And Yeats's little house. So many familiar voices.

Shema, shema Israel, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Ehad,

John :)

Pod said...

do you mind carol anne duffy mr l?

Lori Witzel said...

Ah, comfort poetry.

Basho. Ol' Ez, of course (a man for many moods.) Some Wallace Stevens. John Donne.

I wonder if the poetry that moved us as we first learned about the power and beauty of poetry is what makes comfort poetry...

Shelly Lowenkopf said...

POD: Not only do not mind, but rather admire Carol Anne. ditto Les Murray.