Friday, September 25, 2009

Suburban, a poem by John Ciardi.

Post 333 - This one is for Jon & Emily.
The son of Italian immigrants, John Ciardi was born in 1916 in Boston's North End and grew up in Medford, Massachusetts. He studied at Tufts University, before receiving his M.A. from the University of Michigan in 1939. After years of teaching English, at Harvard (1946-1953) and Rutgers (1953-1961), Ciardi resigned his tenured faculty position for an independent career. When he left Rutgers, he famously quipped that teaching was "planned poverty." He wrote 21 books of poetry and served as a highly popular poetry editor of the Saturday Review from 1956 to 1972. His occasional public television broadcasts were supplemented by his weekly National Public Radio series begun in 1980 as A Word in Your Ear. He was presented with a National Teachers Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1982. Ciardi died of a heart attack on Easter Sunday, 1986.

He once observed, "You don't have to suffer to be a poet; adolescence is enough suffering for anyone."

Suburban by John Ciardi

Yesterday Mrs. Friar phoned."Mr. Ciardi,
how do you do?" she said. "I am sorry to say
this isn't exactly a social call. The fact is
your dog has just deposited-forgive me-
a large repulsive object in my petunias."

I thought to ask, "Have you checked the rectal grooving
for a positive I.D.?" My dog, as it happened,
was in Vermont with my son, who had gone fishing-
if that's what one does with a girl, two cases of beer,
and a borrowed camper. I guessed I'd get no trout.

But why lose out on organic gold for a wise crack
"Yes, Mrs. Friar," l said, "I understand."
"Most kind of you," she said. "Not at all," I said.
I went with a spade. She pointed, looking away.
"I always have loved dogs," she said, "but really!"

I scooped it up and bowed. "The animal of it.
I hope this hasn't upset you, Mrs. Friar."
"Not really," she said, "but really!" I bore the turd
across the line to my own petunias
and buried it till the glorious resurrection

when even these suburbs shall give up their dead.