Monday’s Verse 9-24-07

What? Paul Muldoon again? Awww… Like little kids getting served
broccoli, that’s what you are. But you know it’s good for you! Well,
those in need of a more regular fix can at least pick up a New Yorker
and find a couple Paul Muldoon-SELECTED poems, since the man has just
been named poetry editor of that fine literary publication. The
outgoing editor, Alice Quinn, “worked with a range of poets that
included Joseph Brodsky, Jane Kenyon, Louise Glück, Yusef Komunyakaa,
John Ashbery, Charles Simic, Eavan Boland and Mark Strand,” according
to the NYTimes. Poets, it should be mentioned, who have all graced
these pages (with the possible exception of Jane Kenyon. Anyone know
her work?).

But we’ve probably printed more Muldoon than anyone else, just because
he’s my hobby horse. When critiquing a Muldoon poem, it’s hard to know
where to begin, because it’s also hard to know where to end–that is,
there will always be something more to unlock, something more to say,
trickster that he is. But we should not forget there is blood and life
in his poetry too, and deep emotion. Here’s one that seems to speak a
little more for itself, sans finery. I can’t remember how old it is
but I believe 80’s era.  -ed.


My father and mother, my brother and sister
and I, with uncle Pat, our dour best-loved uncle,
had set out that Sunday afternoon in July
in his broken-down Ford

not to visit some graveyard—one died of shingles,
one of fever, another’s knees turned to jelly—
but the brand-new roundabout at Ballygawley,
the first in mid-Ulster.

Uncle Pat was telling us how the B-Specials
had stopped him one night somewhere near Ballygawley
and smashed his bicycle

and made him sing the Sash and curse the Pope of Rome.
They held a pistol so hard against his forehead
there was still the mark of an O when he got home.

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