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It . . . Matters to History but Not to Poetry
by
Gilbert Allen


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—M. H. Abrams (General Editor, The Norton Anthology of English Literature),
on Keats’s erroneous assertion that Cortez discovered the Pacific   
 
Although I’ve switched kin and ken
on occasion, taken Mondays
for Tuesdays, moved convenience stores
from one intersection to 
the next, changed dolls
to inflatable dummies, even
misremembered grand
-father for -mother, I’d still like to think 
certain matters deserve respect.
Making love or money,
taking a shower or a shellacking,
feeling the rapture 
or the rupture,
all make a difference.
Gentle Balboa broke ass, not donkey,
humping to Darien—only to have his head 
handed to him, like poetic justice.
What a pity his name should be writ
in water—as stout Coleridge
so memorably never put it.

This poem first appeared in Cumberland Poetry Review.
Used with the author's permission.

 
Purchase a framed print of this poem.

 

Gilbert Allen lives with his wife, Barbara, in upstate South Carolina. His sixth collection of poems, Catma, will be published by Measure Press in 2014. M. H. Abrams, whose quote is the title for this poem, was Gilbert's professor during his days as a student at Cornell. Learn more about Gilbert here.

 

 


New comments are closed for now.
Mary Lou Taylor:
Here's to someone who can take Keats and make use of his writing beautifully. You tell a story here. I wish I'd written your poem rather than the Antelope Valley poem.
Posted 11/12/2013 07:18 PM
Buckner14:
Absolutely delighttful throughout; the title prepares us and the last 3 lines sum it up with a witty click!
Posted 11/12/2013 12:53 PM
Katrina:
Poetry is much more adaptable than history. Why not work within your powers? Keats may have had more influence than anyone, who assumes the Pacific was 'discovered'.
Posted 11/12/2013 09:00 AM
paradea:
The title?? My sentiments, exactly! Fantastic poem!
Posted 11/12/2013 07:40 AM
phebe.davidson@gmail.com:
Hah! Nothing like the off-kilter (and on target) take on events to ring them clear, even this early in the day!
Posted 11/12/2013 05:53 AM
rksanders@charter.net:
Priceless! That last line especially.
Posted 11/12/2013 04:47 AM


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