Sunday, March 18, 2007

American Life in Poetry: Column 103

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

One of the ways a poet makes art from his or her experience is through the use of unique, specific and particular detail. This poem by Rick Snyder thrives on such details. It's not just baseball caps, it's Tasmanian Devil caps; it's not just music on the intercom, it's James Taylor. And Snyder's poem also caught my interest with the humor of its flat, sardonic tone.


How Are You Doing?

As much as you deserve it,
I wouldn't wish this
Sunday night on you--
not the Osco at closing,
not its two tired women
and shaky security guard,
not its bin of flip-flops
and Tasmanian Devil
baseball caps,
not its freshly mopped floors
and fluorescent lights,
not its endless James Taylor
song on the intercom,
and not its last pint of
chocolate mint ice cream,
which I carried
down Milwaukee Ave.
past a man in an unbuttoned
baseball shirt, who stepped
out of a shadow to whisper,
How are you doing?


Reprinted from "Barrow Street," Winter, 2005, by permission of the author. Copyright (c) 2005 by Rick Snyder. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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