An Open Letter to Eileen Myles
Author: Christine Cody
June 16, 2012
Dear Eileen Myles,
Your new tandem book Snowflake / different streets (Wave Books) feels so good in my hands. I like to cradle it in my open palms―different streets: Newer Poems in my left hand and Snowflake: New Poems in my right. Next I lift it to my nose, sniff the thick card stock pages, then flip it around the other way. I feel the Yin and the Yang of each title, both opposing and complementing the other, and together finding a mutual interdependence in the fibrous spine. This has become my ritual with your beautiful book, Eileen.
I have a friend in the industry, the book publishing industry, who collects little books. She has them lined up neatly, not alpha-by-author but by trim size, along the mantels of her pre-war Park Slope brownstone’s non-working fireplaces. Green Integer, The Hanuman Press series, Penguin’s Great Ideas―she’s got them all. Your volume would easily find a home here. Wave Books created a petite literary artifact, a gorgeous wee object to gaze at and to touch.
You dedicate different streets to Leopoldine Core, a love, and several poems in it tenderly crack me: “the perfect faceless fish,” “hi,” “perfect night,” and “glowing stick.” You tuck so much into so little as you ride that thin rim between Yang and Yin, like in “june 5,” an eight line poem that you consummate with: “I love you / Trumpets!”
Another one, “mitten” takes the top of my head off:
I wrote something else
about the day holding me
and me holding you. A car
passes like a big breath.
It’s what I’ve got: all these
things and I hand them
to you like sex in the city.
My ideal. Our endless
sound. Our connection.
Listen to all your voices now.
Beautiful, Eileen. So beautiful. I could live in all this holding. I could live in this poem.
Snowflake dazzles me too, in its many tiny shifts, in its quiet loneliness. The opening poem, “transitions” lays out what this side of your twinned volume is all about:
I’m unsettled because I am supposed to be. Yes, it affirms, we are primal and alone.
90% of my favorite poems in Snowflake are about love: lost love, new love, animal love, the interstitial spaces of love, holding love, the movements of love. So of course I have been sleeping with your book snowflake side up, beneath my pillow each night.
and I’ve dog-eared “Call It In”:
I like the solitude
hand on a warm
a close kind of
Yes, it affirms, we flourish in connection.
and each time I reread “Transportation,” my queer heart does back flips:
I bought a bigger
but then I
call. It seemed necessary
and I miss you all
I can almost see the Downtown scene from this poem. and I can feel your multitudes in it: de Sade, Genet, Burroughs, Rimbaud, and Ginsberg. (We share literary loves.) and it’s like all the versions of you (Boston, New York, L.A.) showing up in a single poem.
and Boom! You’re a Guggenheim Fellow, Eileen, which made me cry with joy for you. A queer punk poet as a household name, you are utterly prominent now.
And forgive me this Matthew Dickman paraphrase, but, Eileen, you’re my President; I wanted to get this letter right!