Monday’s Verse 4-16-07

So I also sent “Mercy on Broadway” to a colleague here at school, who
said, “I was having a totally crappy day–and that poem was amazing!
Totally changed my outlook, at least temporarily.” As Doty said, maybe
someday somebody would read his poem and walk on Broadway.. anyway,
that’s about the best evaluation we can give in some ways.

Last in our FOG phalanx is Grace Paley, born in the Bronx in the
1920’s. Never graduated college. Big political activist. This is
another one of those conversationally-toned poems that makes but
subtle use of what we usually recognize as the tools of the poet’s
trade–yet enough to set it apart from prose. What’s the effect to



My friend tells me
a man in my house jumped off the roof
the roof is the eighth floor of this building
the roof door was locked  how did he manage?
his girlfriend had said  goodbye I’m leaving
he was 22
his mother and father were hurrying
at that very moment
from upstate to help him move out of Brooklyn
they had heard about the girl

the people who usually look up
and call  jump jump  did not see him
the life savers who creep around the back staircases
and reach the roof’s edge just in time
never got their chance  he meant it  he wanted
only one person to know

did he imagine that she would grieve
all her young life away  tell everyone
this boy I kind of lived with last year
he died on account of me

my friend was not interested  he said  you’re always
inventing stuff  what I want to know  how could he throw
his life away  how do these guys do it
just like that  and here I am fighting this
ferocious insane vindictive virus day and
night  day and night  and for what?  for only
one thing  this life  this life



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