Tuesday, April 08, 2008

BillyBlog's Favorite Poems, #23 ("The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" by Randall Jarrell

I have reached a gap between the Poems I Believe Should Be Mentioned and the Poems That Must Be Mentioned.

There are a few pieces dangling like slabs of beef waiting to be inspected. This is a work in progress. I had the nagging feeling that I went out of town and left the iron on. I unfolded my telescope and peered into my memory’s chambers. With a little nudge, I remembered the following poem, which still elicits an inner gasp even today. I can only imagine what it must have been like when it was fresh and new like an open wound.

I feel like a bit of a cheater, selecting a poem that is widely-anthologized. Not a lot of single poems have their own wikipedia entries. But, that's the way it is.

Alas, the casualty is James Tate, a worthy poet I would have loved to laud here, but he’s been bumped from the green room into someone else’s Top Something List of Poetry.

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Listen: "The Death of The Ball Turret Gunner" (m4a) read by Randall Jarrell!
Previous Favorite Poems for National Poetry Month:

#24 - A Handful of Richard Brautigan
#25 - "A Buddha in the Woodpile" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
#26 - "Separation" by W.S. Merwin
#27 - "The Flea" by John Donne
#28 - Poem Twenty from Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
#29 - "Magpie's Song" by Gary Snyder
#30 - "Eunoia" by Christian Bok

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