So I was looking around for a definition of "kee-kee," famously used in Paris is Burning, and it seems like the generally accepted meaning is something like "kibitzing." Among a spreading group of my friends, though, we've been using it to mean something more along the lines of bonding, or feeling an affinity, with someone. For example: remember that scene in Sense and Sensibility when Marianne says her favorite Shakespearean sonnet is 116, and Willoughby begins to recite it? And then Marianne joins in? They totally just kee-kee-ed.
Anyway, that long explanation is to set up what happened the other day. It was lunchtime at the library, and I found myself with nothing to read while I sat outside and ate. So I went upstairs to browse the late PS call number range, looking for some poetry I hadn't read. I finally settled on School of the Arts by Mark Doty, a volume I'm pretty sure I ordered for the library based on reviews of it. I read two poems in a row, and had a kee-kee moment.
The first, "Oncoming Train," is about the irrational, visceral urge to step in front of a moving subway train:
Not that I want to be dead, exactly, and certainly not that I want to suffer, I have a great deal to live for--
But the idea of simply stepping out of forwardness --that moment is the clearest invitation and opportunity
to strike against time, to refuse to accede, to win some power over what no one controls.... (30)
The only thing that seems real and guaranteed, at times, is the forward motion of time - which, as Doty points out, has total control over all of us.
The next poem, "Heaven for Paul," can be found in its entirety at another blog, Bud Bloom Poetry. It describes something I'm mortally afraid of - a plane crash. Well, it actually describes being on a plane that probably will crash (but of course, doesn't, because Doty lived to write the poem). I have to admit, the first time I read the poem through I sort of missed its point, because I was imagining being in that position, and freaking out. What would it feel like to know you were about to die? In the poem, he finds himself somewhat at a loss (I think):
...I had no internal composure,
and any ideas I'd ever entertained about dying seemed merely that, speculations flown now while my mind spiraled in a hopeless sorrowful motion.... (33)
Anyway. I had heard the name Mark Doty a lot, but never actually read any of his poems, and I'm glad I've started, because not only are they good poems, but they speak many of my own thoughts and neuroses about time and death back to me. The Poetry Foundation has a nice profile of him, if you're interested.
All quotations from Doty, Mark. School of the Arts. New York: HarperCollins, 2005.