Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chris's Poem about Pumpkins and Poetry

Here's a timely poem for the advent of Halloween. (Dr. Russell would kill me if he saw those quasi-Christian terms tossed together so carelessly.)

Smashing Poetry

The pumpkin’s collision with the sidewalk shocks me
into silence—I stand mute and inglorious,
although I’d watched the stranger climb the balcony

and grab the d├ęcor. Hollering, he shook his fist
in conquest, as if to declare, “Man over gourd!”
I’m a coward before this minor injustice,

and act as though his hatred for a carved fruit bores
me. Truth is, I despise his malice and want to
tackle him, rub his grinning face in the orange gore

he battered from the well wrought squash. (His girlfriend, too,
who watches from below and giggles her support
for his success at turning artifice to goo.)

I nearly tell him, “you’re an asshole,” try to thwart
the thug with the obvious. But there’s a paper
due tomorrow; I should start it. Time’s always short

On Halloween. Turning my cheek, loving my neighbor
In deference to this sacred Christian holiday,
I head for home to write (and pray I get an A for

a change). As assignments go, this one is okay.
It has me digging through defunct British journals,
unearthing obscure poets, like this “E.S.J.,

Author of William and Ellen”—no eternal
bards here, just sickly scribblers confined to brown sheets
that crumble at your touch. In these, my nocturnal

musings, I trickily treat Henry Pye’s complete
works, or enough of them to conclude that the long-dead
laureate’s a hack. Critical hindsight is sweet

And I’m passing it out in handfuls to well-read
visitors. I condemn the style of Pye’s instant,
what Wordsworth so wisely rejected. Why—instead

of panegyric dreck to a royal infant,
odes to Albion’s peace—didn’t Pye ignore trends,
Write something timeless, like me and Billy Collins?

It’s late by now. Somewhere outside, my vandal friends
are looking for targets, eager to strike again.

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