Women with hats like the rear ends of pink ducks
applauded you, my poems.
These are the women whose husbands I meet on airplanes,
who close briefcases and ask, “What are you in?”
I look in their eyes, I tell them I am in poetry,
and their eyes fill with anxiety, and with little tears.
“Oh, yeah?” they say, developing an interest in clouds.
“My wife, she likes that sort of thing? Hah-hah?
I guess maybe I’d better watch my grammar, huh?”
I leave them in airports, watching their grammar,
and take a limousine to the Women’s Goodness Club
where I drink Harvey’s Bristol Cream with their wives,
and eat chicken salad with capers, with little tomato wedges,
and I read them “The Erotic Crocodile,” and “Eating You.”
Ah, when I have concluded the disbursement of sonorities,
crooning, “High on thy thigh I cry, Hi!” —and so forth—
they spank their wide hands, they smile like Jell-O,
and they say, “Hah-hah? My goodness, Mr. Hall,
but you certainly do have an imagination, huh?”
“Thank you, indeed,” I say; “it brings home the bacon.”
But now, my poems, now I have returned to the motel,
returned to l’eternel retour of the Holiday Inn,
naked, lying on the bed, watching Godzilla Sucks Mt. Fuji,
addressing my poems, feeling superior, and drinking bourbon
from a flask disguised to look like a transistor radio.
And what about you? You, laughing? You, in bluejeans,
laughing at your mother who wears hats, and at your father
who rides airplanes with a briefcase watching his grammar?
Will you ever be old and dumb, like your creepy parents?
Not you, not you, not you, not you, not you, not you.
“We recognize that Hall’s success flows not only from his native talents, his devotion to his art, his grasp of the human condition, its universes of loss, love, pain, and beauty, but also from a healthy, and indispensable, sense of humor about it all.” – Ernest Hilbert
Ernest Hilbert interviews Donald Hall in the American Poetry Review.
Ernest Hilbert reviews Donald Hall’s Selected Poems in The Hopkins Review.