Poem of the Week (courtesy of The New Yorker)
Master of Disguises
Surely he walks among us unrecognized:
Some barber, store clerk, delivery man,
Pharmacist, hairdresser, bodybuilder,
Exotic dancer, gem cutter, dog walker,
The blind beggar singing, Oh lord, remember me,
Some window decorator starting a fake fire
In a fake fire place while mother and father watch
From the couch with their frozen smiles
As the street empties and the time comes
For the undertaker and the last waiter to head home.
O homeless old man, standing in a doorway
With your face half hidden,
I wouldn’t even rule out the black cat crossing the street,
The bare light bulb swinging on a wire
In a subway tunnel as the train comes to a stop.
Have you ever read a poem about a subject that you’ve also written about, but the other poet’s poem is far superior to yours? I like Simic’s poem. A lot. I also wrote a poem about a homeless man, “Changing Lights.” It is one of my newer poems and I included it in my thesis, even though I think it still may need some tweaks. While I’m encouraged by the fact that I can find poems inside these kind of subjects, I am constantly frustrated that my execution isn’t as strong as other writers.
Disclaimer: I am not comparing myself to Charles Simic. He’s brilliant but his poem made me think about my poem, which I think is a compliment.
General verdicts to date: it’s an archaic, risible, underpaid job; none of the truly major poets (Heaney, Walcott, Hill, Muldoon, Prynne, etc) will be eligible, or considered, or interested; it should go to a woman; that woman should preferably be an accessible entertainer such as Pam Ayres.
Mark Doty calls for Animal poems.
I never knew this existed:
He should consider reviving the Federal Writers’ Project, a Great Depression-combating New Deal program — part of the Works Progress Administration — that lasted from 1935-1939 (in some states until 1943). Under its aegis, some 6,600 people — not all of them trained writers — found useful work. The Project created the enduring landmark series of populist American Guide books about individual states and cities, including 1943’s Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and Its Neighbors. (There were also Federal Art, Music and Theatre Projects; the latter staged productions at the Emery Theatre.)
Speaking of animals, this article was in the Indy Star this morning. I’ve been saying the same thing for years, but if your kitty tears up your furniture, buy them a scratching post.
The Humane Society and the American Veterinary Medical Association say declawing a cat should be a last resort, because it causes pain