Monday, December 17, 2007

"The Old Man at the Wheel" by Frank Bidart

I'm usually not a fan of "poems about poetry," of which I think there are far too many. It takes a writer of great skill to make a poem about writing more than just a naval-gazing exercise. I think Frank Bidart does that well in this poem from the Oct. 2007 issue of Poetry. If you dig this, check out his other poem in that issue here.

The Old Man at the Wheel

Measured against the immeasurable
universe, no word you have spoken

brought light. Brought
light to what, as a child, you thought

too dark to be survived. By exorcism
you survived. By submission, then making.

You let all the parts of that thing you would
cut out of you enter your poem because

enacting there all its parts allowed you
the illusion you could cut it from your soul.

Dilemmas of choice given what cannot
change alone roused you to words.

As you grip the things that were young when
you were young, they crumble in your hand.

Now you must drive west, which in November
means driving directly into the sun.

(Frank Bidart, from the October 2007 issue of Poetry.)

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