Saturday, April 12, 2014

National Poetry Month: J. Allyn Rosser

"You've Got It Made"
(j. Allyn Rosser)

Listen, now is not so bad.
At your age I filled myself
with loathing. I slept badly,
had dreams, and wept openly
at the deaths of friends.
Now you don't have to.
Why, I used to have to read
by the glow of my surge protector!
Sure, they charge you for emotions now,
but back then when you had them
they were impossible to trace
even when they were genuine.
They just descended whammo,
unpredictable as flashback.
Sadness or fear would break out
on your face or alter your voice --
your hands trembled. We tried
hypnosis, meditation, even alcohol
to steady ourselves, though it left one
more wobbly and soured the breath.
Everyone was after the same things:
company, comfort, worthiness.
We wanted to save our faces.
Now you get a new one.
I can remember when the pursuit
of happiness was a privilege.
Lord, how we used our elbows!
Rat race, rush hour, quaint phrases now.
Death was still completely irreversible.
That's why we had beauty, capital B.
We had to search for Beauty,
define and redefine and preserve it.
This was anguish, yes, but delicious!
Can you understand that? A perk.
These days whoever opens your heart 
is wearing a mask, wielding lasers.
Listen, I once followed a girl
across two whole continents.
When I finally caught up with her, 
she turned out to be all wrong for me. 
I married her anyway. That's right.
That's how we did things back then.
Now that was beautiful, that love.
She bore me your grandmother,
and in you I can almost see --
ah! Well, now look at you.

"You've Got It Made" (J. Allyn Rosser) appeared in Poetry, April 2005.  Her collections include Misery Prefigured (2001) and Foiled Again (2008). In a 2010 Georgia Review interview, Rosser responded to the question “Why not just write in private journals?” She answered: “Because not risking the resistance or disapproval of readers would be another form of apathy ... Exploding and rediscovering truth is just one half of our felt purpose, our way to engage with the world. The other half, I’d say, is in the telling.” She teaches at Ohio University.

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