jeff dolven

May 21Wayne Koestenbaum reads from his just-published volume Notes on Glaze, then discusses the poetics of captioning with scholars Jeff Dolven, Robert Slifkin, and Catherine Taylor. Register now. 

Wayne Koestenbaum, page from Notes on Glaze. Image courtesy Oliver Wasow

This is a City of Bridges

This is a city of bridges,
though the water is mostly fled;
a city of ambitious span
and empty bed.

It makes for a curious skyline:
from the road you’d think
of skyscrapers at a watering hole
stooping to drink

except that there’s no water.
The old canals are parched,
and no one comes to sing or suckle
under an arch

and no one quite remembers
what the bridges were for,
what we were getting over, and why
we’re still building more.

But build we do. More bridges!
Bridges to make us free.
At the foot of each the traveler has
a choice of three

but nowhere to rest at nightfall
when the bridges chase their tails,
churning between dusk and dawn
like buried wheels.

– jeff dolven

My Puppets

I wake up morning snug in my bed-puppet.
Not the liveliest in my repertoire,
but wait, it gets better: next is my pants-puppet,
bandy-legged, hyperactive, true
to life, puppeting lifelike down the hall
onto my waiting elevator-puppet–

a marionette–the down, down to my bus-
puppet, puppeting all those nodding heads,
those drowsy fingers on their so-called smart phones,
and wait till you get to see my office-puppet,
a tour de force of digitalization
that makes the city flap its arms in panic.

So this must be my poem-puppet, yes?
Don’t be naive. The poem is my hand.
Can’t you feel it here inside you, friend?
It enters where it can, and reaches up,
way behind your eyes. So realistic,
how your mouth moves like that as you read.

- Jeff Dolven