The Power
Playlist by Andrew Badr 5 poems
I'm in the middle of reading "The Power", a sci-fi novel by Naomi Alderman. It's so good, and it inspired me to make this playlist exploring the poetics of electricity. The novel is changing how I read these poems and vice versa.
1. The Lightning is a yellow Fork
Emily Dickinson
2. Ode to the Electric Fish that Eat Only the Tails of Other Electric Fish,
Thomas Lux
3. Electricity
Geoffrey Nutter
4. Electricity
Lola Ridge
5. The farthest Thunder that I heard
Emily Dickinson
The Lightning is a yellow Fork
From Tables in the sky
By inadvertent fingers dropt
The awful Cutlery

Of mansions never quite disclosed
And never quite concealed
The Apparatus of the Dark
To ignorance revealed.
which regenerate their tails
and also eat only the tails of other electric eels,
presumably smaller, who, in turn, eat ... 
Without consulting an ichthyologist — eels
are fish — I defer to biology’s genius.
I know little of their numbers
and habitat, other than they are river dwellers.
Guess which river. I have only a note,
a note taken in reading
or fever — I can’t tell, from my handwriting, which. All
I know is it seems
sensible, sustainable: no fish dies,
nobody ever gets so hungry he bites off more
than a tail; the sting, the trauma
keeps the bitten fish lean and alert.
The need to hide while regrowing a tail teaches guile.
They’ll eat smaller tails for a while.
These eels, these eels themselves are odes!

Children picking through the rocks
beside the river on a spring day.
What are they looking for? Old green
net tangled on broken pilings; a couple
embracing on the tumbledown esplanade.
Some fishermen drinking beer from tall brown bottles.
Broken shells, tire treads, rusted aluminum pull-tabs—
downriver, near the sun, the great echoes
and the embers of the bridge; and upriver,
far away, the echoing spools and dynamos
of the dam, its forces crackling outward
like the giant snow crab's jointed legs,
like a web in sunlight, a net, a chorus
of embers, like a plan the river is planning,
abstract, afire and electric, glowing
in the levitating rubric, invisible,
visible to children, undiscovered:
Brace yourselves—electricity
is coming to us.
Out of fiery contacts...
Rushing auras of steel
Touching and whirled apart...
Out of the charged phallases
Of iron leaping
Female and male,
Complete, indivisible, one,
Fused into light.
The farthest Thunder that I heard
Was nearer than the Sky
And rumbles still, though torrid Noons
Have lain their missiles by —
The Lightning that preceded it
Struck no one but myself —
But I would not exchange the Bolt
For all the rest of Life —
Indebtedness to Oxygen
The Happy may repay,
But not the obligation
To Electricity —
It founds the Homes and decks the Days
And every clamor bright
Is but the gleam concomitant
Of that waylaying Light —
The Thought is quiet as a Flake —
A Crash without a Sound,
How Life's reverberation
Its Explanation found —