Monday, June 13, 2011

Going On About Crackers

One of those sublime June days of blue-green water, ocean breezes and mild sunlight, good time for propping up in an Adirondack chair and reading some pages of Raymond Carver. Two or three of his story collections are stacked up around here, but there is another, a well worn old paperback of the collected poems, All of Us. This is the collection put together by Carver’s wife and poet, Tess Gallagher eight years after the writer’s death. Gallagher is the woman Carver lived with for the last nine years of his life, marrying her only two months before his death in 1988.

In October of last year I posted three poems from this collection, but wavered some over which of the more than 300 poems in the book might be best for a short look at Carver’s poetry. Naturally, the tendency is to pick personal favorites, but there is hope also that a few of the chosen examples will give a clear look into the heart and peculiar expression of a great American writer. Here are two more poems from All of Us. The first, “Still Looking Out for Number One” originally appeared in the fall 1984 issue of Paris Review. The one who has ‘gone away for five days’ is Tess gallagher.


Now that you’ve gone away for five days,
I’ll smoke all the cigarettes I want,
where I want. Make biscuits and eat them
with jam and fat bacon. Loaf. Indulge
myself. Walk on the beach if I feel
like it. And I feel like it, alone and
thinking about when I was young. The people
then who loved me beyond reason.
And how I loved them above all others.
Except one. I’m saying I’ll do everything
I want here while you’re away!
But there’s one thing I won’t do.
I won’t sleep in our bed without you.
No. It doesn’t please me to do so.
I’ll sleep where I damn well feel like it—
where I sleep best when you’re away
and I can’t hold you the way I do.
On the broken sofa in my study.

“Soda Crackers” is a delicious piece of whimsey, a Carveresque ode to a box of crackers which become a part of a solitary stay at his Port Angeles, Washington house. The poem first appeared in 1986.


You soda crackers! I remember

when I arrived here in the rain,

whipped out and alone.

How we shared the aloneness

and quiet of this house.

And the doubt that held me

from fingers to toes

as I took you out

of your cellophane wrapping

and ate you, meditatively,

at the kitchen table

that first night with cheese,

and mushroom soup. Now,

a month later to the day,

an important part of us

is still here. I’m fine.

And you—I’m proud of you, too.

You're even getting remarked

on in print! Every soda cracker

should be so lucky.

We’ve done all right for

ourselves. Listen to me.

I never thought

I could go on like this

about soda crackers.

But I tell you

the clear sunshiny

days are here, at last.


  1. I have a Cracker Pie recipe that I will pass on to you that you can, if you wish, share with your readers. It is a wonderfully tasting pie and so easy that it can be made in less than 10 min. to serve to friends who might drop in unannounced. It has to cook 30 min, though.

  2. After doing some online research, I got my first e-cig kit at VaporFi.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America