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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » I can’t get this out of my head

I can’t get this out of my head

“First Time” by Jason Shinder

I was a virgin but I knew the messy sexual hunger of the word ah.

It was like two wires crossing that never should. It was like
   the invention
of sound for the deaf. Through my brother’s great, slightly open,
   bedroom door

I saw two heads bobbing for apples on the pillow, their mouths in the
   shape of ah,

the wet crystals of each breath falling on their faces. I heard that final
   ah they made—
the room ripped apart, the wild, injured noise of a wounded dog.

Hellow, little brother, my brother said. I hope we weren’t too loud,
   the girl said.

I couldn’t speak; the wind drifting through me as if through a cow’s
   skull in the desert.
I watched their fingers sift through each other’s hair again, pulling at
   the roots

of everything that had come before, and everything that would come after.

The girl had this way of murmuring, narrating in the dark. I pushed
   the door
further open. Ah that’s good, she moaned. Now you.

This is from Jason Shinder’s Stupid Hope. Admittedly, I don’t read nearly enough poetry as I ought and I’m struggling with the fact that this poem has been knocking around my head for three months now, poking itself into my thoughts on a fairly regular basis. What is going on in these lines is shaking me in two ways: first, it is so insightful and human but still masculine without being macho; and second, that I will never be able to put together a single coherent string of words that can do this.

It makes me never want to write a poem again —or maybe, more precisely, that I will never need to with this having been written— and, at the same time, want to write every poem I even briefly consider. I’m pretty sure this is what we’re supposed to be doing with poetry.

There is nothing wrong with creating something intimidating when it’s so wonderfully done.

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