Monthly Archives: November 2007

Monday’s Verse 11-29-07

Hey kids!

I’m sorry about this week’s poem or lack thereof, and I’ve got a big
ol’ nasty final this coming Monday, and, heck, probably one the next,
too, haven’t even thought that far in advance. Therefore let this
tender morsel suffice until we meet again. I found it in the food
section of the Times, of all things!

We all know Billy Collins. You may also remember that one of his
heroes, Elizabeth Bishop wrote a well-anthologized poem by the same
title. But it would take more of a scholar of American modernism than
I am to explain any harmonics there.

Me, I’m not really all that big on this poem. I think it rings several
false notes–the pathetic fallacy for one. Y’all remember that?
Anyway, I do love Pittsburgh though.




As soon as the elderly waiter
placed before me the fish I had ordered,
it began to stare up at me
with its one flat, iridescent eye.

I feel sorry for you, it seemed to say,
eating alone in this awful restaurant
bathed in such unkindly light
and surrounded by these dreadful murals of Sicily.

And I feel sorry for you, too —
yanked from the sea and now lying dead
next to some boiled potatoes in Pittsburgh
I said back to the fish as I raised my fork.

And thus my dinner in an unfamiliar city
with its rivers and lighted bridges
was graced not only with chilled wine
and lemon slices but with compassion and sorrow

even after the waiter removed my plate
with the head of the fish still staring
and the barrel vault of its delicate bones
terribly exposed, save for a shroud of parsley.