Treasure Island

gershon hepner

(5 3 38 / leipzig)

not good enough to eat


NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT

"For years some people said that I was good enough
to eat, " declared in his nostalgia Randall Jarrell.
I never was like that, and I am now so tough
I can't be marinated, even in a barrel.
He once wrote of a poem by John Berryman,
"He can't have written this: I wonder whom he's shielding."
Of Randall, not of Berryman, I am a fan,
not to the latter's public adulation yielding.

He claimed that Oscar Williams' poem had been written
on a typewriter, and written by a typewriter.
I don't possess one, but I used to own a kitten
which would compose upon my keyboard verses lighter
than this one, but more difficult to understand.
Like nearly all my verses, they're unpublished, too,
but I hope both of ours will be when we both land
on all fours as my kitten used to do, and mew.

Michael Dirda in "Freelance" in the TLS,10/1/10, writes:

No one is a better critic, or more fun, than my particular favorite, Randall Jarrell. As a poet, he is most remembered for his fine-line was classic, "The Death of the Bell Turret Gunner, " and for his depictions of childhood ("The Lost World") and middle-aged angst. "For many years/ I was good enough to eat " (Next Day") . He is also notorious for his put-downs: "Nothing can make me believe that Mr. Berryman wrote this himself, and is not shielding someone." "You know [Willa Cather's] Lucy Gayheart only in the way you know yourself, if you were badly forgetful, and not very introspective." Oscar Williams's poems "gave the impression of having been written on a typewriter by a typewriter."

THE DEATH OF THE BALL TURRET GUNNER
From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Michael Dirda writes:
Dear Mr. Hepner,
Well, unpublished or not, I like your poem. Thanks for sending it. All best, md


4/10/12 #9849

Submitted: Wednesday, April 11, 2012

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