David Huddle

My Surly Heart
November 24, 2018 Huddle David

My Surly Heart

[A great singer needs] a big chest, a big mouth, 90 percent
memory, 10 percent intelligence, lots of hard work, and
something in the heart.
–Enrico Caruso

The aim of literature…is the creation of a strange object
covered with fur which breaks your heart.
–Donald Barthelme

You don’t know what lives
in there until you ask it
to help you make some art

Fall in love with someone
run a marathon befriend a
homeless person I’ll help

you with those things art
is too hard plus it makes
me feel strange it whines

Look what it did to Plath
Berryman Jimi Hendrix Van
Gogh Kurt Cobain Basquiat

Rothko and Billie Holiday
Heart I beg you I want to
sing arias paint gorgeous

visions write novels that
will inspire people to be
kind to each other I want–

Don’t be an idiot I’m not
that kind of heart you’re
not ready to make the art

I could help you with you
can be an okay accountant
look at your tidy columns

the kind of art you’d get
with my help will horrify
your mother make your dad

angry turn your potential
girlfriends cold keep you
poor forever trust me art

I help you with will make
you feel dissatisfied all
day teach you how failure

disfigures the soul turns
you permanently eccentric
disqualifies you–
Enough!

How about we say no songs
no paintings no novels or
memoirs just a poem every

now and then? Heart turns
in my chest lurches skips
syncopates finally growls

Hate the stuff can’t help
you–
Yes you can you know
you can just one poem you

can do that for me to get
me started–
Gonna be mean
as a mistreated porcupine–

I don’t care, I just want
to feel like a poet Heart
snarls OK pal you got it.

David Huddle teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English and in the Rainier Writing Workshop.  His fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in The American ScholarEsquireThe New YorkerHarper’sPoetryShenandoahAgniPlumeThe Hollins Critic, and The Georgia Review.  In 2012 his novel Nothing Can Make Me Do This won the Library of Virginia Award for Fiction, and his collection Black Snake at the Family Reunion won the Pen New England Award for Poetry.  Huddle’s novel The Faulkes Chronicle appeared from Tupelo Press in Fall 2014; his most recent poetry collection, Dream Sender, was published by LSU Press in Fall 2015; and his novel, My Immaculate Assassin, appeared from Tupelo Press in September 2016.  With Meighan Sharp, Huddle has co-authored a poetry collection, Effusive Greetings to Friends, forthcoming from Groundhog Poetry Press in the fall of 2017, and his new novel, Hazel, is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2018.  His new poetry collection, My Surly Heart, will be published by LSU Press in 2019.