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Posts Tagged ‘The New Yorker May 20 2019’


Stanley Moss’ poem, “I’m Sorry,” in this issue of The New Yorker, riffs on the idea of debt. “I’m sorry, exhausted, except for funds. / I wrote a check, the date October 18…” The narrator reflects on how making amends is like owing a debt, on how the process of writing a check can be a metaphor for the debts we owe our friends, and on how the process always seems messy, when filling out a check or saying I am sorry. “I don’t get it right, I leave off years.” The turn moves to considering the way someone else handles their life’s debts. “I’m sure a poet I love… never bounced a check.” And the whole poem ends with an image reflecting on loss. A crisp, professional poem, worthy of the New Yorker.

Anna McDonald has the other poem in the issue, “Cairn At 4 A.M.,” which starts, “Not the Snoo or the Dock-A-Tot or / the Moses basket… no, if you are a small, new human, the full-grown / human body is the best place to sleep.” A paean to the narrator’s child, sleeping on her lap. What it feels like, the weight, the discomfort, the joy. How the mother becomes completely in service to the child. “I have learned what my body is for.” I love the image of the parent as cairn onto which the child is placed as top rock of the pile, together, touching yet independent, slowly creating a marker for the world to see, as guidance, perhaps. There’s a fun sweetness to this poem, the power and completeness of what really matters in life, with a wonderful ending, alien and familiar, shocking and true, and quiet but profound. What else can we ask of a poem?

Peace in Poetry,

P M F Johnson

My book of poems, Against The Night, a wry look at a love that builds through a long marriage, is available on Amazon, and at other fine e-retailers.

Related blog posts:

The New Yorker – Apr 29 2019

Apple Valley Review – Spring 2019

The Missouri Review – Winter 2018

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