I swear we ran this poem before, but looking back I can’t seem to find it. Perhaps I read it and then forgot to include it earlier in the year. Jack Gilbert’s collected poems was recently reviewed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette–with much pride, since Mr. Gilbert is a native Pittsburgher. An earlier (March) review in the New York Times said that “Reading Mr. Gilbert’s finest poems is like shaving with a razor that just nicks your skin. There’s a slight imperfection in the blade. There’s a bit of blood.” He was born in 1925 and has lived his life outside of the spotlight, even though his first book made a splash. He vagabonded around Europe, and has taught sporadically, also lived in San Francisco during the beat era, without adopting their aesthetics or social stance. He has also toured foreign countries as a poetry lecturer for the Department of State–how do I get that gig?!
Enjoy this pithy observation from one of our undersung lions. -ed.
Imagine if suffering were real.
Imagine if those old people were afraid of death.
What if the midget or the girl with one arm
really felt pain? Imagine how impossible it would be
to live if some people were
alone and afraid all their lives.