Oct. 30, 2002

Envoy to Jimmy

by David Budbill

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Poem: "Envoy to Jimmy," by David Budbill from Judevine (Chelsea Green).

Envoy to Jimmy

First I've got to tell you
there's only one radio station around here
anybody ever listens to
because it's the one with the farm news
and the local news and the Trading Post
and comes on at five so folks have music to milk cows by.

Everybody listens to it while they're going down the road.
It's nice because
everybody's head bounces to the same tempo.

I was coming home one day up the river road
and saw Jimmy coming toward me in the pickup
headed for the sawmill or the feed store.

I was going to toot and wave, I always do,
mostly everybody does. Then I saw him
in the cab in that instant
as we passed each other
his arms stretched straight against the wheel,
his head thrown back, eyes almost closed,
his mouth     wide     with     song.

It's the birthday of the impressionist landscape painter Alfred Sisley, born in Paris (1839) to English parents. He trained under Renoir.

It's the birthday of the novelist, poet and essayist Larry Woiwode, born in Carrington, North Dakota (1941). He's best known for his novel Beyond the Bedroom Wall (1965), parts of which were published in The New Yorker Magazine. Some of his other work includes Indian Affairs (1992), The Neumiller Stories (1989), Born Brothers (1988), Poppa John (1981), and a volume of poetry, Even Tide (1977).

On this day in 1938, H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds was broadcast over the radio by Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre. People listening panicked, imagining that the drama was an actual alien invasion.

It's the birthday of Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez, born in the province of Alicante (1910). His most successful book was The Unending Thunderbolt in 1936, largely a collection of erotic sonnets.

It's the birthday of poet Ezra Pound, born in Hailey, Idaho (1885). He grew up in Philadelphia and began attending the University of Pennsylvania at the age of fifteen. He was such a prodigy, he spoke nine languages at the time. This is where he met William Carlos Williams. He then launched into his great lifetime work, The Cantos, the 800-page epic. He was a friend of T.S. Eliot and helped to edit The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Waste Land. He was a friend of Yeats and he was the one who discovered Joyce before anybody else knew about him. He said, "Nothing written for pay is worth printing," and "We should read for power. Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one's hand."

It's the birthday of author Irma Rombauer, born in St. Louis, Missouri (1877), and best known for The Joy of Cooking, which she wrote after her husband died in 1930. She was left with very little money and decided to write a cookbook. She published it herself and it was the only cookbook chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the 150 Most Influential Books of Our Time.

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