Happy HourThe two rather glossy-looking young guysdrinking dry martinis at the baruse a lot of product.They use phrases like “convergence trades”and “fungible commodities.”In fact, one of them has said“fungible commodities” at least three timesin the past ten minutes,causing the other guy to frownand vigorously tap his phone.Meanwhile Mike and Iare using phrases like “pretty good pilsner”and “three stolen bases” and “maybe not his best workbut definitely worth taking a look at.”And we are wearing the chalk dustof Whitman seminars, the herringboneof committee meetings, and the frayed Dockersof rejection letters.All of which causesthe two very attractiveradar tracking devicessipping cosmos at the barin their strapless summer dressesto swivel attentively and lock onto “fungible commodities.”Blood PagesSomeone gave my little boythis illustrated book about whalesand every day he carries it to me,demanding we read through its pagesabout the biggest whales, the blue ones,and the fiercest whales, the suaveorcas in their tuxes, and the mildsperm whales with their baleenand blow holes and benevolent gaze.Which is fine. Everyone likes whales,but of course being a boyhe wants to focus on the “blood pages,”as he calls them, just two of theminserted like an accidental doseof reality in the middle of the book,where the great whales are hauled uplike minnows onto the decksof the Japanese trawlers, their strengthbroken against the diesel winches,blood pouring from the smoking woundswhere the harpoons struck and exploded.I want to page forward to the dolphinssomersaulting above Sea World, but hewants to see leviathan strippedof his lordliness, skinnedalive on an ocean of bloodby small men with their scarlet blades,their watch caps and cigarettes,making good money on the long cruisebut nonetheless longing for home,for the touch of their wives,for their own children on their laps.
Copyright © 2018 by George Bilgere
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
George Bilgere is the author of six previous poetry collections, including most recently Imperial. The White Museum was chosen by Alicia Suskin Ostriker for the Autumn House Poetry Series. His third book, The Good Kiss, was selected by Billy Collins to win the University of Akron Poetry Award. His many other honors include the Midland Authors Award, the May Swenson Poetry Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He is the recipient of grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright Commission, and the Ohio Arts Council. (Author photo by Gary Porter)
“The poems in Blood Pages typically arise out of the everyday, such as eating pancakes, a scene at Starbucks, and nostalgia for an old TV set. The wonder here is that Bilgere is able to evince from these poems moments of human pathos as affecting as the ones found in his poems on more serious subjects—a mother’s death, a father’s violence, and childbirth. Bilgere is that rare poet who can be as funny or as serious as he wants to be—often at the same time.”
“George Bilgere’s done it again with Blood Pages. He peels back the layers of artifice to uncover our pulsing hearts working to sort out and survive the everyday struggles and absurdities of being human. With self-deprecating humor, with unwavering empathy, and with hard-earned clarity, he is one of our finest poets, and this is one of his finest books.”
“Bilgere studies the fuzzy math of our circumstance by tallying the mini-thrills of our app-happy culture, enumerating the conditions of unconditional love, acknowledging the way our distractions subtract us from even our simplest interactions. His speakers resemble Bilgere the poet, with at least one important difference: the poet is always a step ahead of them in burlesquing their self-righteous ires, fantasies, and denial of aging and mortality. Several steps ahead. . . . Part of the fun is in trying to ascertain how many.”
—J. Allyn Rosser