O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

American Life In Poetry


April 18, 2019

There's nothing that can't be a good subject for a poem. The hard part is to capture something in such a way that it becomes engaging and meaningful. Here's a poem from the Summer 2018 issue of Rattle, by Peg Duthie of Tennessee, in which two very different experiences are pushed up side by side. Her most recent book of poetry is Measured Extravagance, (Upper Rubber Boot, 2012).

Decorating a Cake While Listening to Tennis

The commentator's rabbiting on and on

about how it's so easy for Roger, resentment

thick as butter still in a box. Yet word

from those who've done their homework

is how the man loves to train––how much

he relishes putting in the hours

just as magicians shuffle card after card,

countless to mere humans

but carefully all accounted for.

At hearing "luck" again, I stop

until my hands relax their clutch

on the cone from which a dozen more

peonies are to materialize. I make it look easy

to grow a garden on top of a sheet

of fondant, and that's how it should appear:

as natural and as meant-to-be

as the spin of a ball from the sweetest spot

of a racquet whisked through the air like a wand.

We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Peg Duthie, "Decorating a Cake While Listening to Tennis," from Rattle, (Vol. 24, No. 2, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Peg Duthie and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.


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