a silly story about my boyfriend, and a Robert Hass pome

My partner Noah is both a lover of as well as constructive critic of my work, and for this I appreciate him a lot. He’s not afraid to say this is really good and I don’t understand this in the same breath, and furthermore, he’s not afraid to say this is not your best work and this would make it better.

Naturally, I use email to send him a lot of my work, and I often write funny little comments in the email’s text. But what I’ve been doing for a while now is typing “pome” as the subject text and then simply saying “a pome” as the email message with the attachment. I’m not sure when this started, but he and I have a history of purposely fudging words. “Yocky” in place of “yucky” was a childhood misspeech for him, but soon we’d find ourselves saying “bogs” (for insects) and extending our vowels in all sorts of ways to sound funny. We have a similar sense of humor, so this tends to work. I like how “pome” sounds like “poem” but softer; it’s shortened to one syllable and immediately brings to mind my favorite Christmas fruit, whose seeds are seen through a translucent ruby exterior which is juicy and tart and sweet, and crunches when bitten. If a poem is anything like a pomegranate then I would say it’s wonderfully successful. (Ironically, “pome” generally indicates apples or pears, not pomegranates, but the latter always come to mind first upon hearing the word. Connotations, what can I say.)

But what’s even more interesting is that one day (again, I don’t remember when) I wondered if anyone else uses “pome” to mean “poem.” After a little noodling on the internet, I found a tiny website link by some guy named Matthew Ogle and put my email in to receive one “Short modern poem” each day in my inbox. I figured, I like modern poetry, and brevity, and furthermore, anyone who also calls poems “pomes” will probably send me poems that I’m going to like.

I was right.

The pomes I get each day cause me to think, to consider how poetry can push around its own boundaries, and to appreciate brevity (and how to make brevity work) more than ever before. Some of the poems I’ve received have been written by Robert Hass, whose A Little Book on Form we’re reading in our workshop. (Side note: There is nothing “little” about this book. Apparently, like myself, Noah, and Matthew Ogle, Hass likes to play around.) In A Little Book on Form, Hass continually quotes authors from the beginning of English poetry as we know it into the modern/contemporary era, which shows that he is well-read and studied. Thus, I really like the invitation to read some of his own work. The following I have directly copied from the text of my email from the “Pome” subscription, sent out on 10/27/2018:

from Songs to Survive the Summer

The love of books
is for children
who glimpse in them

a life to come, but
I have come
to that life and

feel uneasy
with the love of books.
This is my life,

time islanded
in poems of dwindled time.
There is no other world.

But I have seen it twice.
In the Palo Alto marsh
sea birds rose in early light

and took me with them.

Robert Hass (1979)

. . .

I don’t want to over-examine this pome because I actually think that the reader benefits from taking in these four sentences (I think of this pome in terms of sentences) and allowing the experience of reading it to wash over them. I’m learning from this subscription how to read and write brevity, and I hope that you will enjoy this mental experiment and pome as much as I did, too.

Cheers to changing around words in the English language to sound silly and fun.

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