Oct. 4, 2005


by X. J. Kennedy

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Poem: "Pie" by X.J. Kennedy, from Lords of Misrule © Johns Hopkins University Press. Reprinted with permission.


Whoever dined in this café before us
Took just a forkful of his cherry pie.
We sit with it between us. Let it lie
Until the overworked waitperson comes
To pick it up and brush away the crumbs.

You look at it. I look at it. I stare
At you. You do not look at me at all.
Somewhere, a crash as unwashed dishes fall.
The clatter of a dropped knife splits the air.
Second-hand smoke infiltrates everywhere.

Your fingers clench the handle of a cup
A stranger drained. I almost catch your eye
For a split second. The abandoned pie
Squats on its plate before us, seeping red
Like a thing not yet altogether dead.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of the famous artist Frederic Remington, born in Canton, New York (1861). He was famous for his paintings and bronze sculptures of the American West.

It's the birthday of Edward L. Stratemeyer, born in Elizabeth, New Jersey (1862). He's famous as the man who created the Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, the Rover Boys, and Nancy Drew. He wrote about 150 books of his own, then started the Stratemeyer Syndicate with a team of ghostwriters to write books based on his outlines. The Stratemeyer Syndicate still sells about six million books every year.

It's the birthday of Damon Runyon, born in Manhattan, Kansas (1884). He was a newspaper man. He moved to New York in 1910. The musical Guys and Dolls was based on his stories. He said, "The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet."

It's the birthday of Brendan Gill, born in Hartford, Connecticut (1914). He was a novelist, playwright, and essayist. He wrote for many years for the New Yorker magazine. His novels included The Trouble of One House, about an Irish Catholic family, much like his own, in which the mother dies young. He wrote books on architecture, biographies of Lindbergh, Cole Porter, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Brendan Gill loved writing and loved the city of New York. He said, "You feel, in New York City, the energy coming up out of the sidewalks. You know you're in the midst of something tremendous, and if something tremendous hasn't yet happened, it's just about to happen."

It's the birthday of Roy Blount Jr., born in Indianapolis (1941). He grew up in Decatur, Georgia and learned to read from Uncle Remus and Mark Twain. He went to Vanderbilt, graduated, and got a job writing sports for Sports Illustrated. His first book, About Three Bricks Shy of a Load, came out in 1974. It's about the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Roy Blount said, "I have written about politics, sports, music, food, drink, gender issues, books, comedians, language, travel, science, animals, economics, anatomy, and family life, preferably about all of those things together."

It's the birthday of the novelist Anne Rice, born in New Orleans (1941). Her father was a postal worker and wrote fiction in his spare time. Her mother was an actress. Anne Rice got married and had a daughter, but her daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of five, and died.

Rice wrote her first novel after that, about a vampire who becomes so lonely, he decides to turn a five-year-old girl into a vampire to keep him company. That novel was Interview With a Vampire. It came out in 1974.

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




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