Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Molly Fisk: The Lineage

All I knew from Pittsburgh
was Jack Gilbert's poem read aloud
in a Petaluma living room
when Jack was still living near Linda 
somewhere in the Berkshires,
years before his sad devolution
and eventual demise in a hospital
in Oakland where someone – an orderly?
a young poet friend? – seeing no
next of kin called Gary Snyder
to ask what to do with Jack's remains,
which is how it is for us, I guess,
the poets, tethered to each other
in the popular mind as if we were one 
big family and we are: arguing
and making up, taking soup to the infirm, 
writing down the bits we've overheard
in coffee shops about the revered ones,
reciting their lines, borrowing a good 
verb, a cadence, an attitude, until 
we find ourselves, folding them
into our work, the ancestors, the lineage,
and then there I was, brought to read
a few poems where the Monongahela
and the Snake meet to form the Ohio 
under so many butter yellow bridges, 
only Pittsburgh, as he said, but what 
did I know? is more than Pittsburgh.

Copyright 2020 Molly Fisk

Molly Fisk’s books include The More Difficult Beauty (Hip Pocket Books, 2010)

8 comments on “Molly Fisk: The Lineage

  1. David Adès
    April 7, 2020

    I must read Jack Gilbert! I love this poem: it brings to mind the gossamer thread in Whitman’s “A Noiseless Patient Spider” – how we all seek in one way or another to connect with one another, no less so than through our poems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      April 7, 2020

      Thanks, David. Yes, Jack Gilbert has been a very important poet for many of us. I would recommend reading him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • David Adès
        April 7, 2020

        He has been on my reading list for years, highly recommended by the likes of Michael Wurster and Stuart Sheppard but I haven’t managed to get to him yet alas…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jose Alcantara
    April 6, 2020

    I just spent the last three days re-reading Jack’s Collected. I too am in the lineage and grateful for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. loranneke
    April 6, 2020

    Sorry for the typo. It’s WHATwonderful energy and history!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. loranneke
    April 6, 2020

    at wonderful energy and history in this poem!

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on April 6, 2020 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , , , .

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