Nov. 23, 2003
Poema del City
Poem: "Poema del City" and "Poema del City 2," by Ron Padgett, from Toujours l'amour (Sun).
Poema del City
I live in the city.
It's a tough life,
often unpleasant, sometimes
downright awful. But it has what
we call its compensations.
To kill a roach, for example,
is to my mind not pleasant
but it does develop one's reflexes.
and that's that.
Sometimes, though, the battered roach
will haul itself onto broken legs and,
wildly waving its bent antennae,
stagger off into the darkness
to warn the others, who live in the shadow
of the great waterfall in their little teepees.
Behind them rise the gleaming brown and blue mass
of the Grand Tetons, topped with white snow
that blushes, come dawn, and glows, come dusk.
Silent gray wisps rise from the smouldering campfires.
Poema del City 2
A light chill on the knees
& I sneeze
up late, alone, in my house, winter
rain against the window and glittering there
in the constant light from stoops across the street
cars hiss down from one moment to
the next hour: in an hour
I'll be asleep. Wrapped
in new sheets and old quilts
with my wife warm beside me and my son
asleep in the next room, I'll
be so comfortable and dreamy, so happy
I'm not terribly damaged or dying yet
but sailing, secure, secret and all
those other peaceful s's fading
like warm tail lights down a long landscape
with no moon at all.
Ah, it's sweet,
this living, to make you cry, or rise
& sneeze, and douse the light.
Literary and Historical Notes:
It's the birthday of poet Christopher Logue, born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England (1926), whose works include Wand and Quadrant (1953), The Girls (1969), Kings: An Account of Books One and Two of Homer's Iliad (1991), and The Husbands: An Account of Books Three and Four of Homer's Iliad (1995).
It's the birthday of anthropologist Colin Macmillan Turnbull, born in Harrow, England (1924). He conducted extensive field studies of the Pygmies of Zaire and the hunters of Northern Uganda. He recorded his experiences in two best-selling books, The Forest People (1961) and The Mountain People (1972).
It's the birthday of poet Paul Celan, born Paul Antschel, in what is now Chernovsty, Romania (1920). When Romania came under Nazi control during World War Two, Celan was sent to a forced labor camp, and his parents were murdered. After the war, Celan settled in Paris and wrote "Death Fugue," one of the great poems to come out of the Holocaust.
It's the birthday of novelist Shaun Herron, born in Carrickfergus, Ireland (1912). He was an ordained minister and a college professor who also wrote novels, including The Bird in Last Year's Nest (1974), The Blackmith's Daughter (1987), and At the House on Pine Street (1987). He said, "[I wrote my books] for my son to read so that, if he heeded them, he would not in his youth be the sort of fool his father was when he was young."
It's the birthday of playwright and librettist Guy Reginald Bolton, born in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, England (1884). He's best known for his witty librettos on which he collaborated with such notables as P.G. Wodehouse, Jerome Kern, and Cole Porter. He made his fame on Broadway with scripts for shows like Lady, Be Good (1924), Oh, Kay (1926), and Anything Goes (1934).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®