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This Is Just To Say

Cockatiels

Ran across some verse and realized: The tidal-wave of domesticity that's crashed on these shores has rendered modernist and late-modernist love poetry inoperate.

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

Etc. I'm standing in front of the fridge and I can hear the voice already, lilting up, with a frustrated shrug and frown for the question mark: you ate the plums? That she bought special at Fairway to have for breakfast, not only that but didn't you remember that you're mildly allergic to plums? And I'll be handed a Benadryl after my face turns red, forced to bear her sad headshake. She can hear me open the fridge door from 100 yards and if I opened it right now she'd yell out “don't eat them” and I'd get pissed off and run back into the bedroom and say with a mock sneer, “baby, I'm not going to eat them for God's sake.” So actually as a test I do open the door and she yells “don't eat the plums,” and I laugh and go in and tell her about how I'm not about to eat her stonefruit and brag about how I tricked her.

With my 20s behind me e.e. cummings just looks like a ridiculous trimhound horndog—Pan, punctuated, rampaging through the garden to compensate for his lowercased organ. Consider also Roethke: She moved in circles and those circles moved. The problem is that smooth diameters are now replaced by visions of a row of women exercising themselves upon the ellipticals on the second floor of the Park Slope Y. The sentiment becomes jiggly and insulting, and I'm not going to judge given that I am myself ovoid. I'm going to go home and put my gym clothes in the laundry basket.

(If you drop your dreams on the floor like that cats are going to tread softly on them and they'll end up dirty with pawprints. Dreams should be in the dresser; that's why we have a dresser. For dreams. In the little right drawer.)

Thus life turns out not to be all picnics in graveyards. (You do get the complacencies of the peignoir and the coffee.) All those dead poets stressed about god and goblins and getting laid should have been born later, into cell phones and science. Send a few flirting text-messages—not even a stanza's-worth—and if you have any game you can meet up at a bar and get your circles moved. Not to mention the universes-worth of imperishable bliss inside every plum.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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