Tuesday, August 18, 2015


A friend talked me into going to see a few poets read in Bryant Park tonight. The first poet up was someone whose work I didn't know, Celeste Gainey. Her story interested me: she had always been into light and its effects and was lucky to find work as one of the few female gaffers in movies back in the 1970s (like DOG DAY AFTERNOON and TAXI DRIVER) and then went on to become an architectural lighting artist (mostly for well known New York restaurants).

Now in middle age she has published her first book of poems, THE GAFFER, which comes out of her life and perspective. I like it. And I liked hearing her read. Here's one of the poems from the book she read:

The Early Days of Polyester

You don't know yet you are flammable;
jars of Miracle Whip, tubs of Polly-O in the fridge.
Your morel imperative on ice, the vertical blinds rattling shut,
sleek sofa of solid kerosene resisting your body's impression.
You keep saying, Cotton, cotton, the touch, the feel of cotton,
but you are drawn to the slinky boy shirt with the Kandinsky-like
print, fancy your stubbled sideburns whispering
the top of its Byronesque collar—long pants gesturing toward
no-tits torso, slim hips, bell-bottomed legs, Frye boots.
It feels like Velveeta against your skin, something you might
scrape off with the blade of your Swiss Army knife.
It seems to reject you. Still, you can't stop
parading your shirt through Washington Square Park
in the hot afternoon sun—looking for combustion.

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