Regular readers who are not frightened away by the threat of poetry have probably noticed my habit of being “inspired” by coincidences of the calendar.
About a year ago I noticed that it was the mutual birthday of Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath, who had not much in common except that they wrote poetry and died young each in a kind of pitiful squalor. It was also happened to be the night of a New Moon and where I was, at least, a howling storm of darkness.
Writing poetry about poets, both infinitely more gifted than I, is an act of terminal hubris for which I shall be justly punished. But here it is anyway.
How Black the Night
October 26, 2011—New Moon, Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath
Even the New Moon hides behind the howling clouds.
Happy Birthday Dylan—
Why did you not
rage, rage against the dying of the light
in that pool of your own black vomit
at the Chelsea?
Happy Birthday Sylvia—
That same year, you dewy goddess,
you first emptied the medicine vials
and crawled under your mother’s porch.
Not ships passing in the night,
but traversing the same black ocean
away from home
to something else.
Did you find what you were looking for
in worship and whiskey,
in broken love and madness?
As Dylan moldered under Laugharne,
Lady Lazarus, you wrote.
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
But laying your head in a oven
is no art
and posthumous poems
How black the night, dead poets,
how black the night?