The Charm Of 5:30 Poem by David Berman

The Charm Of 5:30

Rating: 4.0

It's too nice a day to read a novel set in England.

We're within inches of the perfect distance from the sun,
the sky is blueberries and cream,
and the wind is as warm as air from a tire.
Even the headstones in the graveyard
Seem to stand up and say "Hello! My name is..."

It's enough to be sitting here on my porch,
thinking about Kermit Roosevelt,
following the course of an ant,
or walking out into the yard with a cordless phone
to find out she is going to be there tonight

On a day like today, what looks like bad news in the distance
turns out to be something on my contact, carports and white
courtesy phones are spontaneously reappreciated
and random "okay"s ring through the backyards.

This morning I discovered the red tints in cola
when I held a glass of it up to the light
and found an expensive flashlight in the pocket of a winter coat
I was packing away for summer.

It all reminds me of that moment when you take off your sunglasses
after a long drive and realize it's earlier
and lighter out than you had accounted for.

You know what I'm talking about,

and that's the kind of fellowship that's taking place in town, out in
the public spaces. You won't overhear anyone using the words
"dramaturgy" or "state inspection today. We're too busy getting along.

It occurs to me that the laws are in the regions and the regions are
in the laws, and it feels good to say this, something that I'm almost
sure is true, outside under the sun.

Then to say it again, around friends, in the resonant voice of a
nineteenth-century senator, just for a lark.

There's a shy looking fellow on the courthouse steps, holding up a
placard that says "But, I kinda liked Reagan." His head turns slowly
as a beautiful girl walks by, holding a refrigerated bottle up against
her flushed cheek.

She smiles at me and I allow myself to imagine her walking into
town to buy lotion at a brick pharmacy.
When she gets home she'll apply it with great lingering care before
moving into her parlor to play 78 records and drink gin-and-tonics
beside her homemade altar to James Madison.

In a town of this size, it's certainly possible that I'll be invited over
one night.

In fact I'll bet you something.

Somewhere in the future I am remembering today. I'll bet you
I'm remembering how I walked into the park at five thirty,
my favorite time of day, and how I found two cold pitchers
of just poured beer, sitting there on the bench.

I am remembering how my friend Chip showed up
with a catcher's mask hanging from his belt and how I said

great to see you, sit down, have a beer, how are you,
and how he turned to me with the sunset reflecting off his contacts
and said, wonderful, how are you.

Submitted by sallack

Casey Bysshe-stengel 15 May 2011

We got a young poet here - David Berman,28 years old - he's got a real chance to be 29 in a year. I don't want to be too harsh, but this is awfully dull and prosaic. (E. B. - I don't know what the E. stands for, but the B must be Berman.)

4 12 Reply
John Richter 01 April 2015

David, you have this amazing ability to hopscotch across the markers of anyone's life - so elegantly - non-apologetically bringing things to the front of the reader's mind that have otherwise been all but forgotten. Holding a glass of cola up to the sun to see its red tint, following the path of an ant as he traipse by your lawn chair... easy summer day man... How do you do that? It's so amazing... You know, daydreaming about a pretty girl on the courthouse steps, imagining her going - not to just any drug store - but a brick drug store - who in life hasn't walked into a brick drugstore without thinking about it or letting that memory go any farther than just that... I love your poetry, your mind. I was introduced to classical poetry as a child, quickly falling in love with Emily Dickinson, knowing her tragic story, the deep losses she felt, becoming a hermit in her old age - fearful of society - fearful of loving. I've always said that if I had lived during her day then I would have been knocking on her door every day - non stop until she answered it - just to tell her she's wonderful. You are one of the few poets of my own day whose door I would knock on too...

6 1 Reply
Kim Barney 25 April 2015

John, once again you scare me with how much you and I think alike. I agree with everything you said this time!

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E B 17 May 2005

this is really is one of the most beautiful poems ever written.

5 2 Reply
interesting 01 September 2020

interesting that someone would change " But, I kinda liked Clinton" to " Reagan" when posting this here — it's Clinton in the original hardcover edition. originally it's a pretty subtle and very Berman line. interesting

0 0 Reply
Type Slowly 19 May 2021

Is this in the recent Drag City hardcover, the one in blue? I think Actual Air came out in paperback first, meadown and glass buildings on the cover, and in that one it's Reagan.

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Johnny99 08 August 2019

You paint such beautiful visuals that my spirit felt like it was hanging out with you. Thank you

0 0 Reply
my name is jeff and 21 10 January 2018

this website is anoying

4 1 Reply
Chinedu Dike 25 April 2015

A good narrative piece of poetry nicely penned.

2 2 Reply
Richard Blay 25 April 2015

This definitely a prose poetry, I enjoyed much. I love the scenes depicted in there. Good work

2 1 Reply
David Berman

David Berman

Williamsburg, Virginia
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