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COMPANION POEMS - OCTOBER 2000 

The Cortland Review

FEATURE

Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival
An abundance of riches in the hinterlands of New Jersey.  TCR's own Ginger Murchison and Julie Larios report.

David Lehman and Maria Claire Leng
Companion Poems: Odes that Rhyme from A - Z.

Joseph Stanton
The Space-Time Continuum and The Slow Eye of Stan The Man: Baseball, apple pie, and Stan "The Man" Musial.

John Kinsella
The Globe Hotel: The next chapter in his exclusive autobiographical series.

Jonathan Kessler
Book Review: Michael Rothenberg's "Punk Rockwell," a book that transgresses boundaries.

David Lehman and
Maria Claire Leng

Maria Claire Leng holds an MFA from Bennington College where she was the first Jane Kenyon Scholar in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Grand Street, The Best of Pif Magazine: Off-Line, and under "Editor's Picks" in the on-line WebDelSol.


David Lehman's most recent book of poems, The Daily Mirror, was published by Scribner in January, 2000. The book consists of 150 of the poems he wrote after embarking on the project of writing a poem a day. He has continued the practice and is working on a new collection. The paperback edition of his book The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets was issued by Doubleday Anchor in October, 1999. He launched The Best American Poetry in 1988, and remains the anthology's series editor. He lives in New York City, where he is co-director of Monday Night Poetry at KGB Bar. He is also the author of The Perfect Murder: A Study in Detection, two volumes in the Poets on Poetry Series: The Line Forms Here and The Big Question; and three books of poetry: Valentine Place, An Alternative to Speech and Operation Memory.

Companion Poems

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Maria and I wrote companion poems when we were working together in the Bennington College MFA program. I like collaborating on poems with friends, always have. The habit goes back to my undergraduate years at Columbia. Writing companion poems, or request and reply poems, or poems exchanged in lieu of correspondence, is an intrinsically enjoyable activity that can serve as a useful pedagogical exercise (or as an act of friendship). It's unusual inasmuch as the intended readership begins with two—and can also end there, with no loss of pleasure to the authors, though on occasion, the products would seem to have a public dimension. Perhaps this is one of those times. We hope so!

     —David Lehman

 


Ode    Click to hear in real audio

by David Lehman
with thanks to Maria Leng


If Maria is to aria as David is to avid,
I will miss reading her
I will misread her
And then I will put the log back in eclogue,
The am in drama, the Poe in poem.

Let us edit the meditation of Mia
who remains missing-in-action
but whose aim is Miami.
From open to nope,
lose the c as you close the door.

Do not go to Shelley's hell, or Hellas.
Read Coleridge, who got rid of the moral
but kept the tale. Avoid Lowell, unwell.
Lake Como's the place to read Blake.
Do you hear the no in noise, the hat in what?

Arnold is best saved for old age.
When the leaves turn brown, think Browning.
My pop loved Pope. In his mind,
Whitman was a violin-case-carrying hit man.
Frost (minus the biographical rot) gives me chills.

When you tire of satire,
say no to novels Russian
and yes to the essays of Emerson,
think of Ben Jonson's son. Then
put the elf back in self. Rhyme me.

 

 

I Kiss The Scarlet Letter    Click to hear in real audio

by Maria Claire Leng


Thank you for the A without the Bash
A grade of B would thwart my All
Utter C shuts the Lamp
My D you are Avid for adventure

But I'll not tempt E to We
The F like value Locks
The appropriate G to suit my Age
To be an H that's Altered

I test the Con
J Am I when faced with janus
As K, I move towards your Edge
To think our L is Over

This M is blind to Other
You give me the N, Omem Conservadum
O unconscious stop this Mission
The P of poetry birthed its Ounce

It's only Q the variant of Choir
It's the R you Ode
The S that just Aint
It's the T that's Aught

U and me the foolish Nit
Oh my V of love, I Indicate
W to Ink, Y to Earn
Z, what do you make of Eros?

 

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2002 The Cortland Review