Jan 20, 2012


Failing and Flying

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was 
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars 
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say 
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

by Jack Gilbert



I cannot do without you I think,
as I listen uncomprehending to their words
tumbling out quicker than diamonds,
out of a bandit’s purse string.

Eager promises, stupid condolences,
Earthy philosophy they offer too.
I turn a deaf ear and cast my mind
To times when you were my sound.
Speaking on my behalf, knowing
 their stares alone would bring a silence profound.

I was told it would be impossible
To live under the same roof.
Never once did you complain
As I read late with the light on,
When your speakers blared, not once did I frown.

Perfect harmony is made up
of two of a kind.
At the busy corners, my hands and lips,
Would beat a wild stacatto,
in sync with the tap of your stick on the ground.
As you held my hand,
Often I asked, ‘what’s on your mind’?

They asked me what did
it a
ll amount to?
Sight and sound and amber
and incense and fulfillment and knowledge
that i was not alone. 
Reading lips, fleeting touches,
The letters in Braille,
Such was our holy grail. 


Anonymous said...

I was overwhelmed. Keep writing. You are good.


Anonymous said...

You DO do this professionally? I certainly hope so!


drift wood said...


I feel oddly grateful for your words. Thanks. I spent a few hours reading Gilbert's poems and had a queer itch to write somethng of my own. Ambitious, i know. :)
After Hardy, Gilbert's the first guy i've come across who has a clear masculine voice but perfectly intuits a woman's mind. The result is poetry of dazzling truth and beauty. None can match that.
In poem after poem he asks abt love and death and Pittsburg (his birthplace).
I concluded love must be sight, sound, oxygen, a well-done steak, diamond, and sunlight. I tried to put this all together but somehow it didn't come tog. perfectly. Therefore, your words mean a lot.

p.s. Nothing professional here. Absol feeble amateur attempts. :)

jd said...

forget jack but you sure have come a long way uh!:).

vaidegi j said...

read Gilbert's poem this time around! Was engaged with yours until now! :)
Wow! he is good, as the words flow down, pulling us along. Slowly captivating with his imagery and thoughts, in a languid sort of way.

Yours was a myriad of things! :) one of those rare instances when i was glad when you came up with your elaboration.Was mighty piqued that the essence was eluding me! :)

drift wood said...


If the essence was eluding you, then the poem didn't work. Honest. It just failed.


Hope i have. :)