Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 19 • Fall 2006 • Featured Writer • Poetry


Ron Drummond

Before reading us her poem, she clears
her throat, apologizes to "all of you
who may already know," and explains:

"Couvre-pieds are comforters, chenille
means caterpillar in French, and swodzik,
on a Polish tongue, is artificial sugar.

Cruppen doun indicates bent with age
in Scots. The Argentine ni fu ni fa
may be taken as: neither this nor that."

Can my middle-aged mind retain
such polyglottony? On my left,
a paramour of hers -- I've spotted

his orange-zest hair before --
takes notes in trendy text-mess
lingo: Arg 4 not ths/tht.

"The epigraph, from Paul, employs
a mélange of RSV and King James
translations, except for foothold,

lifted from the more recent NIV."
(With all these footnotes, how long
will the evening's first poem last?)

"The verse form is borrowed from
the neglected rigoletto, a semi-epic"
(the answer to my query) "poem

in ottava rima that opens with a boast
and possesses a stanza ultima that begs
forgiveness." (Shall we likewise be

petitioned?) "And how could I forget?
A few more facts before I start:"
(Ere lang, mi darlin' dearie,

we'll a' be cruppened doun!)
"1155 alludes to Genghis Kahn's
nativity, 1632 to Spinoza's death,

and 1972, of course, to Jane Fonda's
Oscar for her performance in Klute."
Then, as if about to tell an anecdote,

the poet pauses, removes her bifocals,
holds a smile. We get it: her prologue
actually was the poem. Applause

travels through the auditorium.
And I am relieved there'll be no
semi- or demi- or hemi-epic aimed

our way from the podium. But am I
simple-minded to doubt this in-joke's
poetry? Or am I simply too old school?

Impatient, I want to say "¡Dílo ya!
Spit it out already! A real poem!"
I turn to my side and the rufous youth,

grinning, tosses his wild mane in awe.
A whoop the size of Texas explodes
from his mouth. It tickles and dismays:

at home, my own Oklahoma honey
is temporarily -- endlessly? -- mute.
A verse that's lost if read out loud?

He's here/not here, ni fu ni fa; tucked
in a place he heads to sort life out --
always in silence (his second language,

almost untranslatable). "Context, context --
context holds the keys," I heard an expert
once opine. And please, don't ask me

who -- I've lost my notes. But I know
this will not last. I trust our past.
I know my lover's silence will not last.

Ron Drummond

Ron Drummond's Why I Kick at Night was the winner of the 2004 Portlandia Press Competition. His poetry is represented in the Penguin textbook Literature as Meaning; the anthologies Poetry Nation, This New Breed, Poetry After 9/11, and Saints of Hysteria; and in journals such as Northwest Review, Borderlands, Columbia Review, The James White Review, Global City Review, and Poetry New York. His translations, in collaboration with Guillermo Castro, of poems by Olga Orosco have appeared in U.S. Latino Review, Terra Incognita, and Guernica. He has received writing fellowships from Ragdale Foundation, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), and Blue Mountain Center, and he was one of the founding editors of Barrow Street.

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