A Poem For Saturday

Mercurybyhendrickgoltzius

Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

The jacket copy for J.D.McClatchy’s Plundered Hearts: New and Selected Poems, just published by Alfred A. Knopf, is worth quoting to introduce the three poems of his we’ll be featuring today and in the days ahead: “With his first several books, J.D.McClatchy established himself as a poet of urbanity, intellect, and prismatic emotion, in the tradition of James Merrill, W.H. Auden, and Elizabeth Bishop—one who balances an exploration of the underworld of desire with a mastery of poetic form, and whose artistry reveals the riches and ruins of our ‘plundered hearts.’… All of his poems present a sumptuous weave of impassioned thought and clear-sighted feeling.” Last night, McClatchy read from his new book at New York University’s Vernon House on West 10th Street to an intimate, enthralled audience.

“Mercury Dressing” by J. D. McClatchy:

To steal a glance and, anxious, see
Him slipping into transparency—
The feathered helmet already in place,
Its shadow fallen across his face
(His hooded sex its counterpart)—
Unsteadies the routines of the heart.
If I reach out and touch his wing,
What harm, what help might he then bring?

But suddenly he disappears,
As so much else has down the years . . .
Until I feel him deep inside
The emptiness, preoccupied.
His nerve electrifies the air.
His message is his being there.

(From Plundered Hearts: New and Selected Poems © 2014 by J.D. McClatchy. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Detail from Hendrik Goltzius’ Mercury, 1611, via Wikimedia Commons)