12 by 12 in 2012 - Poets, that is

If you're like me you're always meaning to read more poetry. And not just because of that vague, niggling sense that poetry is good for you, but because the experience of reading a poem is immersive. I find that reading and then re-reading a good poem puts me in a meditative state as I try, on my first read, to skate along the surface, and then on subsequent reads, to find a deeper meaning. I'm not that practiced at it, and I sometimes wish that I had knowledgeable friends with whom to discuss poetry, a poetry club, if you will.

With that idea in mind, we're launching a Facebook program this year. It's called 12 by 12 in 2012. Each month we'll post a poem online and Special Collections Librarian, Jim Carmin, will hang out with the poet and you, entertaining your questions and having a lively discussion. Our first event will take place on Monday, January 23rd from 2-3pm with Matthew Dickman. We wanted to give you a head start on Matthew's poem, and so we are posting it here. Enjoy, and please join us on Monday to chat with Matthew and Jim, if you have a chance. (Please note that you will have to 'like' Multnomah County Library's Facebook page to participate in the chat.)


I like the inner lives of the silverware; the fork,

the spoon, the knife. I appreciate

how they each have a different reference toward

god, how the fork is Muslim,

the spoon, like a stone, is Buddhist, how the knife

is Roman Catholic—

always worried, always having

a hard time forgiving people, the knife kneeling

down in Ireland and Africa. In San Francisco

my lamp has become a temple.

Every time I turn it on the light moves out across

the room like a meditation,

like a bell or a robe

the way it covers everything and doesn’t want to

kill. Light is the husband

and everything it touches is its bride, the floor,

the wall, my body,

the bronze installation in Hayes Valley

its bride. The lamp chants

and my clothes, my hat thrown in the corner of the room

chants back: nothing, nothing. In my next life

I’ll have no fingers, no toes. In my next life I’ll be

a bougainvillea. A Buddhist monk

will wake up early on Sunday morning and not be a fork

and not be a knife, he will look down at the girl

sleeping in his bed like a body of water,

he will think about how

he lifted her up like a spoon to his mouth all night, and walk

into the courtyard and pick up the shears

and cut a little part of me, and lie me down next to her mouth

which is breathing heavily and changing all the dark in the room to light.