Ode to Louise Gluck


I’m writing an ode to my favorite poet, Louise Gluck.  To join in the fun, come and celebrate the three year anniversary at d-verse poets pub!

I’m writing this poem based on my favorite poem by Gluck–“Mutable Earth.”  I carry that one with me in my wallet.  Rosanna Warren has described Gluck’s writing, for one

diem design photography
diem design photography

as–“her–power is to distance the lyric ‘I’ as subject and object of attention” and to “impose a discipline of detachment upon urgently subjective material”  William Logan from the New York Times described her work as “the logical outcome of a certain strain of confessional verse–starved adjectives, thinned to a nervous set of verbs, intense almost past bearing, her poems have been dark, damaged and difficult to avert your gaze from.” (taken from The Poetry Foundation)

In her poem, “Mutable Earth,” there are a series of questions asked of the narrator and she answers in brief, punching stanzas.  I am going to answer the same questions; why not?


“Are you healed or do you only think you’re healed?”

I tell myself it is

terrible and beautiful

to survive

the mind.

It’s costing me everything.


“But can you love anyone yet?”

My first four years

had love;

I remember the

feeling well.


“But will you touch anyone?”

I tell myself

if I have nothing,

that’s what comes back.


I touch my face

in the mirror

and I feel nothing.


“And your face too?

Your face in the mirror?”

Lupen Grainne

It feels like I am

gloved; I see

a shape of silent centers.

It always felt invisible.


“Were you safe then?”

Hands that can’t feel

reach for danger.


I wouldn’t keep secrets

of my own–my thoughts

were never safe, even

from me.


“So you couldn’t protect yourself?”

I wonder what happened

in my little body

that made me fight–

until I saw her die,

myself; and to lose someone

I hate makes me

love them.


“But do you think you’re free?”

I think I know what I am.


“But do you think you’re free?”

Everything has a price.

Everything has a price.

A small girl fighting and dying

is far more free

then what

she becomes.


















5 thoughts on “Ode to Louise Gluck

  1. intriguing…i just stumbled upon gluck not too long ago…the answers tell an interesting story….from loving the one you hate after their death…to the feel of being gloved…the answers are elusive but still tell the story…pretty cool response amy


  2. i have to confess that i haven’t heard of her before but reading this made me curious and i will check her out… very interesting to write poetry in response to questions someone asks you and also to the questions we ask ourselves sometimes me think…


  3. Pingback: Difficult Degrees


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