Jeffrey Harrison

(Cincinnati, Ohio)

Jeffrey Harrison Poems

1. Mailboxes in Late Winter 12/28/2017
2. Nest 12/28/2017
3. Visitation 12/28/2017
4. LISTENING TO VIRGINIA 12/28/2017
5. FOR CLARE 12/28/2017
6. ENCOUNTER WITH JOHN MALKOVICH 12/28/2017
7. VISION 12/28/2017
8. THE DAY YOU LOOKED UPON ME AS A STRANGER, 12/28/2017
9. CROSS-FERTILIZATION 12/28/2017
10. MEDUSA 12/28/2017
11. AN UNDERTAKING 12/28/2017
12. THE NAMES OF THINGS 12/28/2017
13. Mushrooming 12/28/2017
14. Last Advice 12/28/2017
15. The Figure on the Hill 12/28/2017
16. Enough 12/28/2017
17. Our Other Sister 12/28/2017
18. Necessity 1/13/2003
19. Rilke's Fear Of Dogs 1/13/2003

Comments about Jeffrey Harrison

  • Percy Dovetonsils (5/2/2012 2:53:00 AM)

    I just want to add an excellent poem by the poet. I like its pointed anger & wit. Hopefully, this is the SAME Jeffrey Harrison!

    FORK

    Because on the first day of class you said,
    “In ten years most of you won’t be writing, ”
    barely hiding that you hoped it would be true;
    because you told me over and over, in front of the class,
    that I was “hopeless, ” that I was wasting my time
    but more importantly yours, that I just didn’t get it;
    because you violently scratched out every other word,
    scrawled “Awk” and “Eek” in the margins
    as if you were some exotic bird,
    then highlighted your own remarks in pink;
    because you made us proofread the galleys
    of your how-I-became-a-famous-writer memoir;
    because you wanted disciples, and got them,
    and hated me for not becoming one;
    because you were beautiful and knew it, and used it,
    making wide come-fuck-me eyes
    at your readers from the jackets of your books;
    because when, at the end of the semester,
    you grudgingly had the class over for dinner
    at your over-decorated pseudo-Colonial
    full of photographs with you at the center,
    you served us take-out pizza on plastic plates
    but had us eat it with your good silver;
    and because a perverse inspiration rippled through me,

    I stole a fork, slipping it into the pocket of my jeans,
    then hummed with inward glee the rest of the evening
    to feel its sharp tines pressing against my thigh
    as we sat around you in your dark paneled study
    listening to you blather on about your latest prize.
    The fork was my prize. I practically sprinted
    back to my dorm room, where I examined it:
    a ridiculously ornate pattern, with vegetal swirls
    and the curvaceous initials of one of your ancestors,
    its flamboyance perfectly suited to your
    red-lipsticked and silk-scarved ostentation.

    That summer, after graduation, I flew to Europe,
    stuffing the fork into one of the outer pouches
    of my backpack. On a Eurail pass I covered ground
    as only the young can, sleeping in youth hostels,
    train stations, even once in the Luxembourg Gardens.
    I’m sure you remember the snapshots you received
    anonymously, each featuring your fork
    at some celebrated European location: your fork
    held at arm’s length with the Eiffel Tower
    listing in the background; your fork
    in the meaty hand of a smiling Beefeater;
    your fork balanced on Keats’s grave in Rome
    or sprouting like an antenna from Brunelleschi’s dome;
    your fork dwarfing the Matterhorn.
    I mailed the photos one by one—if possible
    with the authenticating postmark of the city
    where I took them. It was my mission that summer.

    That was half my life ago. But all these years
    I’ve kept the fork, through dozens of moves
    and changes—always in the same desk drawer
    among my pens and pencils, its sharp points
    spurring me on. It became a talisman
    whose tarnished aura had as much to do
    with me as you. You might even say your fork
    made me a writer. Not you, your fork.
    You are still the worst teacher I ever had.
    You should have been fired but instead got tenure.
    As for the fork, just yesterday my daughter
    asked me why I keep a fork in my desk drawer,
    and I realized I don’t need it any more.
    It has served its purpose. Therefore
    I am returning it to you with this letter.



    From Incomplete Knowledge (Four Way Books,2006) .

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Best Poem of Jeffrey Harrison

Rilke's Fear Of Dogs

had less to do
with any harm
they might inflict
than with the sad
look in their eyes
expressing a need
for love he felt
he couldn't meet.
And so he looked
away from them.


He was too busy
for such obligations,
waiting instead
for angels to speak,
looking up at heaven
with an expression
they couldn't help
responding to,
try as they might
to avoid his gaze.

Read the full of Rilke's Fear Of Dogs

Mailboxes in Late Winter

It's a motley lot. A few still stand
at attention like sentries at the ends
of their driveways, but more lean
askance as if they'd just received a blow
to the head, and in fact they've received
many, all winter, from jets of wet snow
shooting off the curved, tapered blade
of the plow. Some look wobbly, cocked
at oddball angles or slumping forlornly

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