Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sean! Norton!

When you do a Google search for "Sean Norton" you get a YouTube link that says "good times...sean norton risky business underwear." It's not the Sean Norton I'm looking for, thank God.

You also get a lot of links for Sean Norton the football player. But I'm looking for Sean Norton the poet. I don't know if he's ever played football. Somehow I doubt it.

Not that poets can't be manly. Then again, who said football was manly?

Deconstruction of gender norms aside, I just finished reading Sean's book of poems Bad With Faces and am quite pleased. Truth be told, Sean is a friend of mine and someone I am quite fond of. Thankfully I liked his book very much, which means he and I can still be friends. Otherwise, you know, awkward...

Here's one of my favorite poems from the book:
You Don't Take the bitter Herb for Your Rheumatism?

Said my grandmother from the corner of the room.
Melvin Arndt from Arndt Funeral Home
walks in and shakes out his black umbrella
with a wooden duck head handle
that appears to have pink lipstick
across the bill. And no surprise it falls
neatly into the antique, and the residual
moisture sound like the noise
from the back of Carla's throat
as she chokes on a pretzel, laughing
alone at a movie that she directs herself.
The second hand on the clock
works as a prop to hold the body up
as long as it can. It circles,
and is mistaken for a heron,
also wearing pink nail polish.
My grandmother who is not quiet
any longer, is at last memory
carrying its own luggage.
A suburban bay window looks as if
it could be eaten at once and put down whole,
a cold sandwich, a light November
afternoon rain, special effects.
The hand circles again and is mistaken for
food on a spoon, a bank clock, industrial clock,
outdoor promenade, by my grandmother.
Pink nail polish I believe
may look like candy.
She is not quiet in any way as she spirits
an imaginary friend, who is the last one alive,
the last one to make it out of her in one piece.
He dances his way to the appointed place,
Holly, NY, 1952, 1952,
waiting to be picked up by the next car
out of her mouth.

(Sean Norton, from Bad With Faces, 2005 Red Morning Press)
Want to read two more poems from Bad With Faces? Better yet, want to listen to Sean read them? Then check out this Michigan Today link.

For more of Sean's soothing voice, listen to him on the Living Writers radio program from 2005.

And for goodness sake, buy his book.

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