Aug. 3, 2002


by C. D. Wright

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Poem: "Personals," by C.D. Wright from Steal Away: Selected and New Poems (Copper Canyon Press).


Some nights I sleep with my dress on. My teeth
are small and even. I don't get headaches.
Since 1971 or before, I have hunted a bench
where I could eat my pimento cheese in peace.
If this were Tennessee and across that river,
I'd meet you in West Memphis tonight. We could
have a big time. Danger, shoulder soft.
Do not lie or lean on me. I'm still trying to find
a job
for which a simple machine isn't better suited.
I've seen people die of money. Look at Admiral
Benbow. I wish
like certain fishes, we came equipped with light
Which reminds me of a little known fact:
if we were going the speed of light, this dome
would be shrinking while we were gaining weight.
Isn't the road crooked and steep.
In this humidity, I make repairs by night. I'm not
among millions who saw Monroe's face
in the moon. I go blank looking at that face.
If I could afford it I'd live in hotels. I won
in spelling and the Australian crawl. Long long
Grandmother married a man named Ivan. The men
called him
Eve. Stranger, to tell the truth, in dog years I
am up there.

It's the birthday of Martha Stewart, born Martha Kostyra in Nutley, New Jersey (1941). She worked as a model while she was in college, then as a stockbroker, and then started a catering business from the basement of her home. Since publishing Martha Stewart's Entertaining in 1983, she's put out thirty-four books, which together have sold ten million copies.

On this day in 1924, Joseph Conrad died of a heart attack at his home near Canturbury, England. He was 66. After twenty-five years of little recognition and insubstantial sales for novels like Lord Jim (1900) and Heart of Darkness (1902), his fortunes turned. His novel Change (1912) received warm reviews and sold well, and he died after having turned down a knighthood and several honorary degrees.

It's the birthday of P.D. James, born in Oxford (1920). She's written fourteen mystery novels, many of which have been made into television films. She began writing mysteries when her husband, a World War Two veteran, had a breakdown and could no longer work. Part of her attraction is the contrast between her age-she's almost eighty-and the murder scenes in her novels, which are terrifying and stylish.

It's the birthday of Ernie Pyle, born in Dana, Indiana (1900). He was a combat reporter for the Scripps-Howard papers during World War Two, and people waited for every column he sent home. He wasn't interested in the breaking news of the war. He wrote about what he called life "from the worm's-eye view," the tiny details of the soldiers' lives. In "The Death of Captain Waskow," he wrote about an officer from Belton, Texas whose body was brought back to camp on the back of a mule. His men laid him out by a stone wall, and Pyle described them as they came one by one to say goodbye to him.

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




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