January 24, 2010


Last night I read Terrance Hayes’s Wind in a Box. An incredible book—full of moments when ideas behind the poems are so potent, lunging forward with life, that the format of lines on a page seems too pedestrian a way to process them. Even Hayes’s use of the same title, over and over (“Wind in a Box”; “The Blue Terrance”) seems to say Is this really the best construct you can come up with? We need some other form to hold these poems: an octagon that can swivel. A steel trap than can swallow. A Pythagorean triangle with wings. 


--after Lorca

I want to always sleep beneath a bright red blanket 
of leaves. I want to never wear a coat of ice. 
I want to learn to walk without blinking.

I want to outlive the turtle and the turtle’s father, 
the stone. I want a mouth full of permissions

and a pink glistening bud. If the wildflower and ant hill 
can return after sleeping each season, I want to walk 
out of this house wearing nothing but wind.

I want to greet you, I want to wait for the bus with you 
weighing less than a chill. I want to fight off the bolts

of gray lighting the alcoves and winding paths 
of your hair. I want to fight off the damp nudgings 
of snow. I want to fight off the wind.

I want to be the wind and I want to fight off the wind 
with its sagging banner of isolation, its swinging

screen doors, its gilded boxes, and neatly folded pamphlets 
of noise. I want to fight off the dull straight lines 
of two by fours and endings, your disapprovals,

your doubts and regulations, your carbon copies. 
If the locust can abandon its suit,

I want a brand new name. I want the pepper’s fury 
and the salt’s tenderness. I want the virtue 
of the evening rain, but not its gossip.

I want the moon’s intuition, but not its questions. 
I want the malice of nothing on earth. I want to enter

every room in a strange electrified city 
and find you there. I want your lips around the bell of flesh

at the bottom of my ear. I want to be the mirror, 
but not the nightstand. I do not want to be the light switch. 
I do not want to be the yellow photograph

or book of poems. When I leave this body, Woman, 
I want to be pure flame. I want to be your song.

-Terrance Hayes

Just buy the damn book already. 


Nancy Devine said...

have you ever seen terrance hayes read. he is terrific. i love his poem "At Pegasus." here's audio of him reading it.

Jessie Carty said...

that is gorgeous! thanks for sharing :)

horselover said...

Lovely. Thank you for posting it.

Lyle Daggett said...

Just an educated guess, I'm thinking the Lorca poem on which Hayes's poem was (at least initially) based is "Gacela of the Dark Death," one of the poems from Lorca's collection Divan del Tamarit, published posthumously.

The link above is to Robert Bly's translation of Lorca's poem, in the Academy of American Poets website. The Lorca poem has always been one of my favorites. I first encountered it in Bly's translation.

Matthew Luzitano said...

Sandra, I've read this book maybe ten times! I was assigned it to read a couple years ago when I was an undergrad creative writing student. Absolutely beautiful. For my grad school application, I wrote an essay about the opening sonnet in the book. Obviously, you and I need to talk some poetry some time! You have good taste!