Nov. 24, 2003


by Raymond Carver

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Poem: "Shooting," by Raymond Carver from All of Us: The Selected Poems (Knopf).


I wade through wheat up to my belly,
cradling a shotgun in my arms.
Tess is asleep back at the ranch house.
The moon pales. Then loses face completely
as the sun spears up over the mountains.

Why do I pick this moment
to remember my aunt taking me aside that time
and saying, What I am going to tell you now
you will remember every day of your life?

But that's all I can remember.

I've never been able to trust memory. My own
or anyone else's. I'd like to know what on earth
I'm doing here in this strange regalia
It's my friend's wheat--this much is true.
And right now, his dog is on point.


Tess is opposed to killing for sport,
or any other reason. Yet not long ago she
threatened to kill me. The dog inches forward.
I stop moving. I can't see or hear
my breath any longer.

Step by tiny step, the day advances. Suddenly,
the air explodes with birds.
Tess sleeps through it. When she wakes,
October will be over. Guns and talk
of shooting behind us.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of author and political analyst Kathleen Hall Jamieson, born in Minneapolis, Minnesota (1946). She's the author of ten books, including Everything You Think You Know About Politics . . . and Why You're Wrong (2000), Dirty Politics: Deception, Distraction and Democracy (1992), and Beyond the Double Bind: Women and Leadership (1995).

It's the birthday of playwright, screenwriter, and director Garson Kanin, born in Rochester, New York (1912). He is perhaps best known as the author of Born Yesterday (1946). He also collaborated with his wife, actress Ruth Gordon, on screenplays for several Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn films, including Adam's Rib (1949) and Pat and Mike (1952).

It's the birthday of novelist and playwright Frances (sometimes Francis) Eliza Hodgson Burnett, born in Manchester, England (1849). Although her name is not well known, she wrote three classic books known by millions of children around the world: Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886), The Little Princess (1905), and The Secret Garden (1909).

It's the birthday of author and journalist Carlo Lorenzini, better known as C. Collodi, born in Florence, Italy (1826). In 1880, he created an unforgettable story of a wooden boy named Pinocchio, whose nose grew with every lie and whose most ardent wish was to become "a real boy."

It's the birthday of author Laurence Sterne, born in Clonmel, Ireland (1713). He is best known for The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy (1760). He said, "I take a simple view of life. It is keep your eyes open and get on with it."

It's the birthday of editor and author William F(rank) Buckley, Junior, born in New York City, New York (1925). In 1955, he founded the National Review, a magazine of conservative opinion. "We are so concerned to flatter the majority that we lose sight of how very often it is necessary, in order to preserve freedom for the minority, let alone for the individual, to face that majority down."

It's the birthday of composer and pianist Scott Joplin, born in Bowie County, Texas (1868). He wrote the Maple Leaf Rag, and instead of selling it to the publisher for a flat fee of 25 dollars, he had his lawyer draw up a royalty contract that paid him one cent per copy. It went only to sell one million copies in sheet music.

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