Literature 8-8-2006

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Ryan Vine

Ryan Vine is the next poet chosen in this once-a-week yearlong survey of Minnesota’s poets and their work. The series is sponsored by Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

Ryan Vine

The Invitation

Imagine the song “My Sharona.”

This is what you hear.
And I say somebody bounces

somebody else’s head
off the bar, mid sentence.

I say beer and blood
have soaked your cigarettes.

And, bam, there you are beside me,
the waitress staring at us both.
Moments ago, I was alone

with my smoke, about to anoint

or consecrate the ashtray
(I couldn’t decide), thinking

I’d like to meet the singer

of “My Sharona,” tell him, Jesus,
you can have her. But no,
tonight it seems everyone wants her.
Barstools howl across the floor.
The bartender’s snapping her towel
at men in a ball on her bar.
Even the cooks: they’re shaking
their fists from out a small
aluminum window on the wall.
And some girl, who’s new in town,
grabs you by the elbow, leads you
outside to her car, up her street,
up the stairs in her house. The view
from her bedroom window
is just like the view in Rear Window,
that Hitchcock movie, where the guy’s sick
and he sits in a wheelchair
and peers all day at other people’s lives
through little binoculars: God,
he looks like a fool. He actually believes
he knows what they’re thinking.


If I had to condense my philosophy into a hundred words or less (the assignment given by, I would say it could be found in the following quote by Paul Valery: “A poet’s function–do not be startled by this remark–is not to experience the poetic state: that is a private affair. His function is to create it in others. The poet is recognized–or at least everyone recognizes his own poet–by the simple fact that he causes his reader to become inspired.” I would also like to quote Robert Frost: “Everything written is as good as it is dramatic.” And, if it’s not too ostentatious to quote another writer, here’s what Stephen Dunn has to say: “Make it simple, make it sad.” Actually, daily I wonder why I do what I do. I think it comes down to this: I am sick of looking toward others for my salvation; I will find it in my work, my poems.