Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 24: Ian Khadan

5-2 alum Ian Khadan ("Stickup Kids") discusses Hal Sirowitz's "Through Pink-Tinged Glasses" on Day 24 of 30 Days of The 5-2. —Gerald So

Sirowitz’s Lovely Intrusion

A friend once told me a story about her parents. She said her father would walk twelve miles every day to go see her mother, "and you're crying about a twenty minute bus ride to get here?" The point she was trying to make was lost on me in that moment. I was enamored with the love story I’d just heard and as the years, since passed, embellished this story with scenery of fish markets and cows grazing along the road running adjacent to the seawall; like the one from my childhood in Guyana, I’ve come back to this scolding from my friend with renewed fondness again and again.

Hal Sirowitz
Hal Sirowitz's "Through Pink-Tinged Glasses" strikes me in the same way, though; the deliberateness of the poet is what's most surprising here. Sirowitz's airy use of short couplets and the comfort that his hanging last line ("...makes any neighborhood seem safe") imbues is masterful. The subtlety of Sirowitz's poem allows for the reader to fill in the spaces not only between the narrative turns, but also the taunting form that he uses with the gaps between couplets begging us to bridge them with our own insights. In this way, "Through Pink-Tinged Glasses" finds its way into the most private parts of our minds and nestles there in a way that the reader doesn't identify as intrusive.

It took me more than a dozen readings to find that the entire poem hinges on the opening, "Your mother used to live / on Bathgate Avenue in the Bronx / while I was dating her, father said." I'd initially been reading the entirety of the poem neglecting, "...father said" which identifies the lyric 'I' of the poem retelling a story told to him by his father, as I'd been introduced to my fond love story of a father walking twelve miles to see the woman he loved.

Bob Holman delivers an incredible reading of "Through Pink-Tinged Glasses" right here on The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly. If it's the only poem you listen to today, it'll be well worth the moments of your life that it brings to you anew. —Ian Khadan

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