James Tate

(8 December 1943 - / Kansas City, Missouri)

The List Of Famous Hats


Napoleon's hat is an obvious choice I guess to list as a famous
hat, but that's not the hat I have in mind. That was his hat for
show. I am thinking of his private bathing cap, which in all hon-
esty wasn't much different than the one any jerk might buy at a
corner drugstore now, except for two minor eccentricities. The
first one isn't even funny: Simply it was a white rubber bathing
cap, but too small. Napoleon led such a hectic life ever since his
childhood, even farther back than that, that he never had a
chance to buy a new bathing cap and still as a grown-up--well,
he didn't really grow that much, but his head did: He was a pin-
head at birth, and he used, until his death really, the same little
tiny bathing cap that he was born in, and this meant that later it
was very painful to him and gave him many headaches, as if he
needed more. So, he had to vaseline his skull like crazy to even
get the thing on. The second eccentricity was that it was a tricorn
bathing cap. Scholars like to make a lot out of this, and it would
be easy to do. My theory is simple-minded to be sure: that be-
neath his public head there was another head and it was a pyra-
mid or something.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Form: Prose Poem


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Comments about this poem (The List Of Famous Hats by James Tate )

  • Rookie - 7 Points Shaun William Hayes (12/23/2011 3:20:00 PM)

    brilliantly oddly funny (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Nadine Gallo (11/19/2011 3:50:00 AM)

    A wild guess: the poet is playing with historical detail, showing how pointless a lot of it is. Who really cares about such details as what hat he wore or how his head grew, etc. History is often concerned with minute details of no real importance. To make sense of some of it we have to make up details such as the ones in this story. It's a child's eye view of historical silliness. (Report) Reply

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