Reading / Writing / Publishing / NYC

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Albert Goldbarth’s “Lithium Sonnet”; or, why I started writing poetry again

October 14th, 2013 by Dustin Parmenter · 1 Comment · Beautiful Words

I came across this poem some months ago while following The Paris Review’s Instagram account. They had a photo of the physical page that they published it on, and it’s stuck with me ever since, this poem. Though I’d since uninstalled Instagram from my phone – because at some point, if you’re like me and looking for distractions from the real Task At Hand (writing, obviously) wherever you can find them; you just sort of need to cut yourself off, no? – I reinstalled it today so that I might spend hours finding this poem in the back logs of The Paris Review’s posts. I blindly scrolled down in order to get to the older posts, and after a few swipes my thumb accidentally clicked into this very poem, the thumbnail of which hadn’t even been loaded yet. Just dumb luck, or fate; either way, this sort of thing has been happening to me rather often lately. I know I can’t ask why.

Anyways, Albert Goldbarth is the reason why I started writing poetry again after a long hiatus from a long career of writing heart-wrenchingly bad Love poetry. Which is available to ye readers at anytime, free of charge and upon request. Anyways, here’s the incomparable A. Goldbarth, in living color (I don’t know if it’s legal or not for me to republish this, seeing as I don’t own the rights, or really have any rights, really; but if you’re going to sue me for sharing the work of this incomparable poet, then you can go…):


Albert Goldbarth, “Lithium Sonnet”

Judith, I’ve seen the CPA. She showed me two

indomitable columns, numbers rising like the legs

of a statue god. And where they add up, where

they meet in a kind of pedestal at their bottom, they

declared such a sense of solidarity and completion, you,

especially you, would have wept at the beauty.


And Judith, the carpenter visited. We joked about her

many minor trials, making a go of it in

a “man’s world,” then she got down to the monstrousness

of a chainsaw, and the nearly-pubic delicacy of shavings.

At the end, she had an instrument: its bubble centers

whenever the work is centered enough to be done.


Let them be totems, let them be invoked.

For the balance. For the level.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Jason Tougaw

    I love the idea of circulating photos of physical pages with poetry on them digitally. It seems like a nice way to value print culture and digital culture. Any chance you can upload the photo? Or a link? I’m curious to see the poem on the page.

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