This week’s featured poem from Slate is entitled Late at Night, written by Gail Mazur. As you know by now, Slate does a really awesome thing by having an audio version of their weekly poem attached to the written version. But it isn’t just any audio version of the poem, it’s the poem read by its author. If you have a minute or two, check out Late at Night on the Slate poetry section to hear it read by the author, Gail Mazur.
Gail Mazur, according to her website, has written many collections of poetry. Her work includes They Can’t Take That Away from Me (University of Chicago Press, 2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001, Zeppo’s First Wife: New & Selected Poems, (Chicago, 2005), and Figures in a Landscape (Chicago, 2011). She is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emerson College and Founding Director of the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge.
Late at Night, by Gail Mazur
—after Su Dongpo’s “Reading Meng Jiao”
Reading awful poems late at night,
each word scratchy as a hog’s bristles,
my eyes ache and blur in the dimming light.
I don’t find one good line, one image,
one single flower piercing the mud—
only ponderous “ideas,” heavy
as boulders clogging a clear stream.
Or worse, it’s like eating bony little fish—
or boiled crabs, and breaking out in hives!
Nothing I hear or see tonight
is comfort or anodyne, nothing
to lose myself in for part of an hour …
Our lives passed like a morning mist,
or a flame whose candle’s burned away.
Why strain listening for beautiful music
in the witless peeps of an insect,
when I can just put the book aside
and study your last woodcut—blue night,
rain pelting the riddling moonlight
on a blue-black bay—more wondrous
than words on a page. Better for me.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s poem from Slate. Stay tuned for another poem this week and check out past poems here.
— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan