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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 26, 2018.
About this Poem 

“This is a poem about disillusionment with institutions. There are two institutions in particular that come in for examination here; I'll leave it to the reader to determine which those are! Though this is, in some strong sense, an autobiographical poem, I hope it can speak to broader concerns about the viability of older artistic and social ideals.”
—Lucy Ives

First Husband

Here is a description of hundreds of years in which
I never comprehend it is hundreds of years, passing
“We lived together,” I write, but what does that mean 
Last night A. convinced me you are a parasite
OK, you’re a parasite, that’s interesting
My blood mixes with the blood of the flea
And we’re having another poetry lesson
It always takes hundreds of years
You’ve interrupted us in the midst of our poetry lesson
I mean “you,” the reader, have interrupted “us”
By which I mean, the bad “you” and, of course, “me”
Out of which construction some American relativism
Comes…
Meanwhile, the flea has returned to Iowa
Ah, flea, let’s look into your affairs!
You seem to have learned a lot from poetry
I truly admired that line about how
A phone charger has become entangled in a tree
And your love of leopards is a neat neoclassical reference
Dionysus animatedly squirting things
Here I’ll insert a description of ……
…………………………………….
[plus provisional knowledge claim]
I wish I could say, “The bad ‘you’ stomps
Upon its hat,” or maybe its “hat”
Or perhaps “it” “gnashes” “its” soft “teeth”
But instead the bad “you” stalks me on email
It sends word to remind me that it is “here”
I mean, nonchalant, therefore
Because this is also poetry
Which is why it is part of the lesson
And reinforced during office hours
The sublime plum
The immortal peach 
The slow death of the humanities
Due to pluralism and (?) expense
“If I can’t have them nobody can”
Is what I wished he’d said
Instead he asked me who the fuck
I think I am in the Foxhead 
And the brown stick of the Iowa River
We didn’t know much but we knew the river
Things occurred and I can remember 
What my body is, in the traditional manner
No politics, except in poems
No deeds, except figuratively
Here is a description of the pink color of heaven and in standing water
Heavens have fallen 
I am 24
Here is a thread of ice 
Penetrating the human sciences
Once you are here, there is only living 
Once you were
And believed I was good until you no longer believed this 
Of me

Copyright © 2018 by Lucy Ives. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 26, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Lucy Ives. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 26, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Lucy Ives

Lucy Ives

Lucy Ives is most recently the author of The Hermit (Song Cave, 2016).