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Critique and Rebuttal

From: The Missouri Review
Volume 36, Number 3, 2013
pp. 76-77 | 10.1353/mis.2013.0079

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Courage is no good

      Philip Larkin

Maybe Art’s only purpose is to preserve the Self.

      Terrance Hayes

You’re born, you suffer, you die. Then?
You’re forgotten. At best the hypothetical
museum that unearths and houses your bones
(a fragment of your jaw, say) survives
a few centuries and doesn’t crumble
until everything else does. Can you name
your grandfather’s grandmother?
Nothing after. That drywall house
you’ve decorated with pictures
from occasional vacations where you ate
expensive cuts of meat, and mistook,
for brief moments, some lamplight over a river
as a sign of forgiveness for your wrongs:
oblivion bowls that little house over
well after the pictures have been taken down
and the new tenants move in and paint
over the color you said was perfect.
Nothing after. The new dog sniffs
the old dog’s collar and we make up the rest.

Not just some lamplight, and not just a river,
it was the Seine for one thing, and we stayed
a few doors down from where Matisse lived
when he painted A Glimpse of Notre Dame.
On the night before our last night,
we sat on the steps to the riverwalk
that appear in that painting and waved at the boats
and kissed and clumsily took pictures
of ourselves. And because we were full
but not too full, and because we were drunk
but not too drunk, and because we had to
say good-bye to the city but not until tomorrow,
and because the open shutter on the periphery
would be a mistake if the painting were
a photograph but because it is a painting,
we could walk back across the bridge
and up to our apartment to look
for those somber colors (I named one cello blue,
she called another melancholy green),
then, before making love, we backed away
from the window, keeping our eyes on it,
as you might retreat, carefully, from something
you’ve balanced that shouldn’t fall but will.

James Davis May  

James Davis May’s poems have appeared in Five Points, Green Mountains Review, New England Review, the New Republic, Pleiades, Tampa Review and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from Inprint and the Krakow Poetry Seminar. In 2013 he won the Collins Award from Birmingham Poetry Review. The former editor of New South, he lives in Young Harris, Georgia.

Copyright © 2013 The Curators of the University of Missouri
Project MUSE® - View Citation
James Davis May. "A Lasting Sickness, and: Portrait of the Self as Skunk Cabbage, and: Someone Takes a Pine Tree Apart, and: Critique and Rebuttal, and: Smerdyakov with a Guitar." The Missouri Review 36.3 (2013): 71-79. Project MUSE. Web. 22 Jul. 2014. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
May, J. D.(2013). A Lasting Sickness, and: Portrait of the Self as Skunk Cabbage, and: Someone Takes a Pine Tree Apart, and: Critique and Rebuttal, and: Smerdyakov with a Guitar. The Missouri Review 36(3), 71-79. University of Missouri. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from Project MUSE database.
James Davis May. "A Lasting Sickness, and: Portrait of the Self as Skunk Cabbage, and: Someone Takes a Pine Tree Apart, and: Critique and Rebuttal, and: Smerdyakov with a Guitar." The Missouri Review 36, no. 3 (2013): 71-79. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed July 22, 2014).
TY - JOUR
T1 - A Lasting Sickness, and: Portrait of the Self as Skunk Cabbage, and: Someone Takes a Pine Tree Apart, and: Critique and Rebuttal, and: Smerdyakov with a Guitar
A1 - May, James Davis
JF - The Missouri Review
VL - 36
IS - 3
SP - 71
EP - 79
PY - 2013
PB - University of Missouri
SN - 1548-9930
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/missouri_review/v036/36.3.davis-may.html
N1 - Volume 36, Number 3, 2013
ER -

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