Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Pot Falls in 2B

For a brain addled by the bedlam that comes with spring break in these parts, the imagination sometimes collapses under the storm of ruckus and clamor. What’s next? Will it be another rearrangement of the furniture overhead? A scrap at the shuffleboard court? Maybe a herd of eight children in clogs stampeding down five flights. I keep a notebook for scribbling random poems I come across here and there, poems that usually fit a particular mood or situation. Seems like without knowing it at the time, one day last December I copied a poem that fits spring break at the beach like a glove.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, poet James Tate has published seventeen books of poetry, most recently The Ghost Soldiers in 2009. He won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for his collection Selected Poems, and in 1995 the National Book Award for Worshipful Company of Fletchers. For many years he has taught at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Talking about the process of writing poetry, Tate has described how he plays with phrases clipped from newspaper articles, bits of history, anecdotes, or ordinary everyday speech, and through a process of assembling, cutting and pasting, attempts to put together a tightly written body of lines that will unveil a peculiar insight into the craziness of human nature.

“Flight” is from his 1992 Pulitzer Prize winning book, Selected Poems.


Like a glum cricket
the refrigerator is singing
and just as I am convinced

that it is the only noise
in the building, a pot falls
in 2B. The neighbors on

both sides of me suddenly
realize that they have not
made love to their wives

since 1947. The racket
multiplies. The man downhall
is teaching his dog to fly.

The fish are disgusted
and beat their heads blue
against the cold aquarium. I too

lose control and consider
the dust huddled in the corner
a threat to my endurance.

Were you here, we would not
tolerate mongrels in the air,
nor the conspiracies of dust.

We would drive all night,
your head tilted on my shoulder.
At dawn, I would nudge you

with my anxious fingers and say,
Already we are in Idaho.


  1. From your last couple of posts concerning life at the beach, sounds like you need to escape to Idaho or wherever and write some poetry about Koi bumping their heads against the side of a patio pond. Any place where there are no "mongrels in the air."

  2. This is why there's Tylenol P.M. And a bag full of earplugs.

  3. thank the Lord for retreats close enough for escape.


About Me

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