Poetry Sunday: Definitely

Browsing the Poetry Foundation's online magazine last week, I came across this poem. It is by a poet that I was not familiar with and I'd never read the poem.

A little research turned up the fact that she is an American poet from Missouri and she is 70 years old. She is an honored poet and has previously won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.

I was entranced by her poem, although I can't really explain why. I'm not even sure that I know what it means, but something about the cadence of the words, their energy and subtle imagery caught my imagination. 

So, what do you think the poem means? 


by Mary Jo Bang

What is desire
But the hardwire argument given
To the mind's unstoppable mouth.

Inside the braincase, it's I
Want that fills every blank. And then the hand
Reaches for the pleasure

The plastic snake offers. Someone says, Yes,
It will all be fine in some future soon.
Definitely. I've conjured a body

In the chair before me. Be yourself, I tell it.
Here memory makes you
Unchangeable: that shirt, those summer pants.

That beautiful face.
That tragic beautiful mind.
That mind's ravenous mouth

That told you, This isn't poison
At all but just what the machine needs. And then,
The mouth closes on its hunger.

The heart stops.


  1. She said, desire. I think she is conjuring an image of the person she desires, or maybe she is playing with something...Well, perhaps like you, I don't know after all. :-)

    1. The wonderful thing about poetry is that it can really mean whatever you want it to mean - whatever it means to you is the correct interpretation. So, I think you are absolutely right!

  2. Wow, that is good. We crave and partly it is that craving that keeps us alive and sentient but in the end it will be our extinction. That is what I think it means. Today all I want to eat is cake!

    1. I think you are onto something there. I like your interpretation. I also like cake.


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