for Max Garland
No wonder I can never remember all eight—
there are only six. I have a placemat
with the periodic table of the elements on it—
I guess it’s time to get it out again.
The ones I never forget are neon
and radon—bar signs and killers in the basement.
I usually remember Superman’s Achille’s heel,
thus krypton, and if I think of Jason, I might
think of Argonauts and thus argon, but
usually I don’t. Almost never will
I think of helium, the most famous one,
the silly voice, the birthday balloon,
the one that can overfill your lungs
and kill you, leeching all your oxygen.
Working on part 2 and 3 of this poem–will post more soon.
What a pleasure it was to hear Max Garland read at the Aldo Leopold Center on an absolutely perfect Wisconsin summer night. I always enjoy his poems and he spoke so earnestly and well about the importance of art, of making it and supporting it, I found I had tears in my eyes a bunch of times.
Here’s a photo I took as I resisted the mingling part of the evening–I couldn’t bear to be inside on such a gorgeous night.
This poem came in response to his poem “Hydrogen,” which is available through the Western Kentucky University English Department website.
I have fond memories of WKU, where I once participated in a marathon poetry reading. We read forever there. We might still be reading there.