Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Four Bagger for Bush

Forget Alito, Roberts, Rumsfeld, and all the rest. The Bush administration has hit a home run with the appointment of Donald Hall as poet laureate.

He's the author of so many books that
no one can count them all
and so the papers give us what
they call "selected bibliographies."

The last time we looked there were
twenty-two books of prose,
four stage plays and eighteen
more of poetry plus
a dozen extra for the kids,
not counting countless anthologies.

He's been the poet laureate of New Hampshire and has won the 1989 National Book Critics Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry, the 1987 Lenore Marshall Award, the 1990 Robert Frost Medal winner from the Poetry Society of America, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the American Council for the Arts. His latest book of poetry is White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006.

Thank goodness this appointment doesn't require Senate confirmation.

In honor of this four-bagger, we reproduce four short poems by Donald Hall which, as near as we can determine, are in the public domain.
Old Timer's Day, Fenway Park

When the tall puffy
figure wearing number
nine starts
late for the fly ball,
laboring forward
like a lame truckhorse
startled by a garter snake,
– this old fellow
whose body we remember
as sleek and nervous
as a filly’s –

and barely catches it
in his glove’s
tip, we rise
and applaud weeping:
On a green field
we observe the ruin
of even the bravest
body, as Odysseus
wept to glimpse
among the shades the shadow
of Achilles

* * *
To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young,
we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads
when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer
pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage,
that began without harm, scatters
into debris on the shore,
and a friend from school drops
cold on a rocky strand.

If a new love carries us
past middle age, our wife will die
at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go. All go.
The pretty lover who announces
that she is temporary
is temporary. The bold woman,
middle-aged against our old age,
sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.

Another friend of decades estranges himself
in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond's edge
and affirm that it is fitting
and delicious to lose everything.
* * *
Mannequin and Maker

When he had pasted her eyelashes --
curled her hair, tinted her lips,

modelled her breasts, and shaped
her thighs that established

a paradisal confluence
of pool and swelling mossy hill --

finally he fixed her moody
soul's deportment by attending

to his mirror, rendering feelings
line-by-line, duplicating urges,

glooms, humors, and satisfactions
with left for right throughout.
* * *

My Mother Said

My mother said, "Of course,
it may be nothing, but your father
has a spot on his lung."
That was all that was said: My father
at fifty-one could never
speak of dreadful things without tears.
When I started home,
I kissed his cheek, which was not our habit.
In a letter, my mother
asked me not to kiss him again
because it made him sad.
In two weeks, the exploratory
revealed an inoperable
The doctors never
told him; he never asked,
but read The Home Medical Guidebook.
Seven months later,
just after his fifty-second birthday
--his eyesight going,
his voice reduced to a whisper, three days
before he died--he said,
"If anything should happen to me..."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! Thank you.