constellations #82: revisiting
I hope June is treating you well. I’ve been a little adrift this month — unfocused, no real discernible theme to report on. (A tweet I saw recently, about how boomers use ellipses in texts — I also do this, for the record — described being “in a perpetual state of ponderance... ruminating...” Let’s say that’s what I’ve been doing?) But by chance, I have found myself revisiting a few things that I used to love and, it turns out, that I still do. Here are some of them:
The poem “Peanut Butter” by Eileen Myles. It’s from a book that came out in the ’90s but I first encountered it six or seven years ago. Around that same time, a friend mentioned offhand that his parents made him memorize poems as a kid, which made me jealous. (The mere fact of being able to recite a poem at will felt so glamorous, so romantic! I did have to memorize the Victor Hugo poem “Demain, dès l’aube” for my eleventh-grade French class, but have since lost most of it.) Also around this same time I was working Saturdays, but there was no one else in my corner of the office on Saturdays and not much to do, so I decided I would spend my free time memorizing stuff. I set my sights on the opening of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, a book I have re-read countless times, and this poem. I only succeeded at the really nailing the first, but when I re-encountered “Peanut Butter” a couple weeks ago I nevertheless found the cadence familiar and soothing. I read the whole thing aloud to Matt, even though he had heard it a bunch of times before, and then we kept saying our favorite lines back and forth to each other (“I’m immoderately / in love with you”; “why shouldn’t / something / I have always / known be the / very best there / is”). It made me glad to be back in the poem’s orbit.
Taking a train south along the Hudson River from somewhere upstate down to Penn Station in the city. I used to do this every other month or so, back in college — taking the Metro-North from Poughkeepsie so I could catch a bus down to Baltimore to visit Matt — but I hadn’t done it since then until a few weeks ago. It was as beautiful as ever.
The album Kicking Every Day by All Dogs, which came out in 2015. All Dogs played a reunion show in Philly last week — their first show since 2016, opening for Wednesday — and me and Madeline drove there to see it. It was really lovely. There was so much enthusiasm in the room. I listened to Kicking Every Day ceaselessly when it came out; during Wednesday’s set, Karly Hartzman said she used to play songs from it on her college radio show. About halfway through their set, All Dogs played “Leading Me Back To You,” which started off as a song for one of Maryn Jones’ old bands — before it was recorded for Kicking Every Day, I used to watch this old video of an acoustic version of it religiously. At the show in Philly, when Maryn got to the part of the song that interpolates “Silver Springs,” everyone around me sang along at the top of their lungs — and then after they sang the last line (“You'll never get away from the sound of the woman that loved you”) the person behind me screamed, “That’s right!!!” a few times. It felt very sweet.
(I had briefly forgotten that I ripped off the “Leading Me Back To You” chord progression for a Keeper song in like 2015, and when Maryn started playing it last week in Philly it all came back to me. So I re-learned my song on my guitar when I got home; another nice time to re-visit.)
The Hop Along EP called Is Something Wrong? (which isn’t technically on streaming, but it’s on someone’s Soundcloud, here.) I started playing it the other day after Matt mentioned that someone is selling the CD for an outrageous sum of money on Discogs, and when we got to “La Strada” I remembered how I’d listen to that song on repeat in our Dupont apartment when I was in grad school, screaming along to the climax of the song: “Nobody knows me either!” Felt good.
Here are some other things I have been consuming lately: The Guest by Emma Cline (whoever called this book “Uncut Gems for girls” was right); You Hurt My Feelings; The Ultimatum: Queer Love (chaos); boygenius live at Merriweather Post Pavilion, surrounded by friends and snacks — truly heaven on earth; Katy Kirby live in Bryant Park; Bad Moves live at Baby’s All Right, a great set made even greater by the ten-year-old kid having the time of their life directly in front of me; “Flirted With You All My Life” by Vic Chesnutt on repeat; Time Ain’t Accidental by Jess Williamson (which I reviewed for NPR); Joy’all by Jenny Lewis (which I also reviewed); this very moving essay about All the Beauty and the Bloodshed; several days at an upstate New York horse show, accompanying my sister (I’ve been telling everyone that it felt like the setting of a yet-to-be-written bestselling novel); the first episode of the new season of The Last Archive, hosted by my very smart friend Ben; the meaning of the word “epithalamion”; several days of horrifying wildfire smoke; an outrageously good tofu sandwich in Kingston, NY
Thanks for reading. This month, I hope you remember something you once loved, and all the love comes flooding back into your heart. Talk to you next twenty-fourth.
It means a poem celebrating a marriage. News to me! Please send me your favorites if you have them — or just love poems in general <3