Nov. 16, 2001

The Hole

by Robert Phillips

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Poem: "The Hole," by Robert Phillips from Breakdown Lane (John Hopkins University Press).

The Hole

At the back of our property
    was a sandpit we called The Hole.
Soldiers, it was our Pork Chop Hill.
    Cowboys and Indians, our butte.

In those pre-Canaveral days,
    it never became a crater
of the moon, or we astronauts.
    It was a place to hide for hours.

Some first discovered sex down there,
    genitals rubbed through corduroy.
Every autumn when we raked leaves,
    we'd dump the bushel baskets down,

bushel upon bushel building
    orange and yellow immensities.
And our discarded Christmas trees
    were tossed to the furthermost side.

Nothing but clean fill was left there.
    We'd level that hole before long,
we thought, but we never came close.
    It's still a hole, choking on weeds

and poison ivy, ice and snow.
    It is the pit I never fill
which I feel sometimes when I hear
    a train split the town late at night,

a stray dog bark at the bitch moon,
    a screen door slam a world away.

This day marks the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim month in which the Qur'an was revealed. Fasting is required during this month.

It's the birthday of the English novelist Michael Arlen, born in Ruse, Bulgaria (1895). He became instantly famous with the publication of his popular novel The Green Hat (1924), which portrayed the licentious behavior of the very rich in post-WWI London society. He wrote a few more books including the thriller The Flying Dutchman (1939) and a screenplay for The Heavenly Body (1944).

It's the birthday of the American playwright George Simon Kaufman, born in Pittsburgh (1889). He began his writing career as a journalist, and he served as a drama critic for the New York Times from 1917 to 1930. He was known as the "great collaborator" because of his work with many other writers in plays and musical comedy. He collaborated with Marc Connelly in several plays, including Beggar on Horesback (1924), with Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin in Of Thee I Sing (1931), with Ring Lardner in June Moon (1929), and with Edna Ferber in The Royal Family (1928). His collaborations with Moss Hart include Once in a Lifetime (1930), You Can't Take it With You (1936), and The Man Who Came to Dinner (1939). George S. Kaufman, who said: "Satire is what closes Saturday night."

It's the birthday of the American composer William Christopher "W. C." Handy, born in Florence, Alabama (1873). He is famous for having brought the blues idiom into ragtime, which was popular in the first decade of the 20th century, with the still familiar Memphis Blues (1911) and St. Louis Blues (1914).

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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