my favorite poem this week

these days, the poems are the only part of the new yorker I reliably read all the way through, no matter what. I used to be too stubborn to give up in the middle of an article or a novel or even a column, but now I guess my time is worth more than that. a poem, though, might turn on its last line from nothing into something special. plus they’re usually short.

this poem, by david st. john, is kind of like that. it was humming along, a little more sparse and clipped than I think of david st. john being on a typical day, but moving smoothly from one line to the next–more of an academic reading than anything else–until the ending came out of nowhere and destroyed me.

without mercy, the rains continued

There had been
A microphone hidden

Beneath the bed
Of course I didn’t realize it

At the time & in fact
Didn’t know for years

Until one day a standard
Khaki book mailer

Arrived & within it
An old

Stained casette tape
Simply labeled in black marker

“Him / Me / September, 1975”
& as I listened I knew something

Had been asked of me
Across the years & loneliness

To which I simply responded
With the same barely audible

Silence that I had chosen then.

Posted November 7th, 2010 in whims & whelms.

One comment:

  1. Leah Bean:

    Wow, that is really something. That’s trickily simple – the last 5 lines are the kind I’ll think about for years to come.