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Wallace Stevens in Love

09.01.19 Posted in today's words by

Thomas Locicero’s most recent poem to appear here was “For Robin Williams” (August 2019).

Wallace Stevens in Love
homage to Paul Mariani

By Thomas Locicero

In railway-divided towns across the whole
of America, the cliché of star-crossed lovers
was at one time as real and as abstract
as love itself. Sons of the indigent
had eyes and blood and hearts just like the rich boys
did, but only on a rare occasion did
rich girls slum, and only once, the poor
boy pretends to believe in his rich mind,
did a rich girl fall in love with a poor boy.
A rich boy smitten by a poor girl was just
as infrequent in the days of social fate.
The great mind falls for the uneducated,
humorless girl, whose beautiful face becomes
the face of the dime for some thirty years.
The father firmly objects to the son
becoming one with the inferior girl,
and so the son leaves the father’s house, never
to speak to the old man again. Such is love.
But what would the two lovers talk about?
What did they have in common but air to breathe?
So the boy becomes a spare-time poet,
spilling brilliance when not working or drinking,
meeting with rival poets, all of whom
hate one another but have fun in spite
of this, and the girl begins to rule their home
so much so that, on one occasion, the boy
sends her a telegram stating he would
be home late because he fears phoning her.
He moves away from New York City for her,
and how does she repay his sacrifices?
She banishes him from bed after the birth
of their daughter, who the housekeeper raises.
He sleeps in the master bedroom, his wife
in the servant’s quarters, a house divided
by proverbial railway tracks, like their town.
So the boy goes to Key West alone, drinking
and fighting with Frost, the weapons of choice words,
and Hemingway with fists, the boy breaking one
on his jaw after rising from a puddle.
In a moment when he is not yielding
to his wife or drink, he simply surrenders
to Williams and becomes great and famous,
having at last found his harmonious life.

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