By Randall Mann
Those who lack a expertise for romance have come
to stroll the lengthy Pier 7. the following on the end
of the imagined global are 3 low-flying gulls
like lies at the floor; the sluggish red
of a pilot’s boat; the groan
of a fisherman hacking a small shark—
and our speech just like the icy water, a poor
translation that won't hold us across.
What introduced us west, besides? A hunger.
But ours isn't any Donner occasion, we who feed
only on surroundings, the most secure form
of obfuscation: see how the bay is a gray
deepening into grey, the colour of heartbreak.
Randall Mann’s Breakfast with Thom Gunn is a piece either direct and unsettling. Haunted by means of the afterlife of Thom Gunn (1929–2004), essentially the most cherished homosexual literary icons of the 20th century, the poems are moored in Florida and California, however the backdrop is “pitiless,” the bushes “thin and bloodless,” the phrases “like the icy water” of the San Francisco Bay. Mann, fiercely clever, open but elusive, attracts at the “graceful erosion” of either panorama and the physique, at the good looks that lies in unbeauty. With audacity, anxiousness, and unbridled wish, this talented lyric poet grapples with dilemmas of the homosexual self embroiled in—and aroused by—a glittering, unforgiving lifestyle. Breakfast with Thom Gunn is without delay formal and unfastened, forging an elegant integrity within the fireplace of wit, depth, and betrayal.
Praise for Complaint within the Garden
“We have sooner than us a skillful, witty, passionate younger poet. . . . Randall Mann is either attuned to and at odds with the wildlife; he articulates the passions and predicaments of a self inside of an incredible, arousing, yet occasionally brutal tradition. And he accomplishes this stuff with buoyant lyric sensibilities and rejuvenating skills.”—Kenyon Review
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Additional info for Breakfast with Thom Gunn (Phoenix Poets)
29 • The L ake of Nostalgia Lots of ibis; a little blue heron, that lavender neck; the lake named for Another Brit in Florida. Look at the water, beautiful and shallow, like a moral failure. Look at the time! Its watch-spring like the curled tongue of a butterfly. • 30 • The End of L and scape There’s a certain sadness to this body of water adjacent to the runway, its reeds and weeds, handful of ducks, the water color manmade. A still life. And still life’s a cold exercise in looking back, back to Florida, craning my neck like a sandhill crane in Alachua Basin.
The midnight shaking of geraniums. Schoolmarms retired from Iowa along with hobbling Methuselahs, alfalfa-fringed and querulous, side by side with crowds of unsuccessful strumpets of moviedom, gorgeous to look at, and hordes of nondescripts seemingly bound from nowhere into nothing. • 46 • The L ong View Two lovers sit atop Dolores Park: they stop their argument to see a church, a bridge, a sea. They play a little game: each man proceeds to name his list of lovers, dead. There’s no one left unsaid.
27 • Syntax Those were the flannel days, after the Gainesville slayings, before the state turned permanent red, AIDS still a reason to cash in your 401(k)—in other words, the early nineties. Yikes. And I was a raver in Florida—whistle, bad skin, snazzy backpack. I learned that the rope isn’t velvet; there never was a rope, just some feral queen at the door: Miss Thing, there is no guest list tonight! Once in, one ate, in designated order, a few choice letters of the alphabet . . I took a choking drag of a clove.
Breakfast with Thom Gunn (Phoenix Poets) by Randall Mann