Poetry, process, progress.

Day 10: Maxine Kumin

Day 10: Maxine Kumin

I love a good narrative and I love how images work to add more, but I really love a poet who uses it all, as Maxine Kumin does. I have her Collected Works, but she was an active poet to the end of her life in 2015. Here is a poem from Where I Live, New and Selected Poems (2011), where she is being political in one of the “torture poems.”

Waterboarding, Restored

           Carol Houck Smith 1923-2008

Let’s take this one out, my editor said,
my wise old editor, who rarely invoked
her privilege, two years from now
(it takes that long to go from manuscript
to print) no one will even remember
the word. And so I did.

It began:
You’re thinking summer, theme parks,
a giant plastic slide turquoise and pink,
water streaming down its sinuous course
and clots of screaming children pouring past
in a state of ecstasy, while you sip gin
and tonic with friends.

Now under the shellac
of euphemism they’re calling it
enhanced interrogation.
It follows on the heels of
extraordinary rendition.
Only the mockingbird is cleverer
Warbling blithe lies from his tree.