Archive for the ‘Quickies from Twitter’ Category

poem is on second shelf from the bottom, on top of "Sales Order" pad

poem is on second shelf from the bottom, on top of “Sales Order” pad


The Business Life

by David Ignatow

When someone hangs up, having said

to you, “Don’t come around again,”

and you have never heard the phone

bang down with such violence

nor the voice vibrate with such venom,

pick up your receiver gently and dial

again, get the same reply; and dial

again, until he threatens. You will

then get used to it, and be sick only

instead of shocked. You will live

then instead of die, have a pattern

to go by, familiar to your ear,

your senses and your dignity.

Image 1


This one is from my Twitter feed, so I’m not going to comment too much, except to explain the very sorry state of the paper this poem is printed on, the tears and crumples. I’ve carried “The Business Life” around in my purse for the better part of a year. Bad things happen to papers in my purse. And I can’t bear to throw out a poem, no matter how worn.


I left the poem in a lonely aisle of Office Depot, but it really belongs in a sales training program. Or a life training program, if I’m going to be gloomy about it.


Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 3.18.00 PMA brief bio: David Ignatow (1914-1997) was the child of Russian immigrants. (Of course! That Russian fatalism is all over this poem.) He was born in Brooklyn, and after graduating from high school, worked as a bookbinder and newspaper reporter. Work being the subject of this poem and of many of his poems, it’s interesting to note how many different places Ignatow worked in his life to support his family: at a vegetable market, hospital, telegram office, paper company (hello, Michael Scott), and several universities.


I’ve liked this guy for a long time, and reading about his life, I like him even more. Think I’ll have to track down more poems of his to poem-elf.


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I found this poem last spring, just after the last forsythia bush had turned green. I had to wait a whole year for the next blooming, and then I found that the poem is absolutely right. No one does plant forsythia anymore. The forsythia I found was mostly on private property. Private property with overgrown yews and old landscaping.


I finally found a row of forsythia by the library, separating the parking lot from a busy highway:


poem is in bush

poem is in bush


and taped Alison Brackenbury’s “Schemes” to a branch:


I love this little poem, but can’t figure out why it’s called “Schemes.” Any ideas?

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I wanted to redeem myself after my last post (see comments section), so I headed back to the ATM. Different bank, different poem, different outcome.

poem is above the "no envelope" sign

poem is on lower right of machine


I taped an excerpt from a poem by a Poem Elf favorite, Carl Dennis. You can read the complete version of “Pioneers” here.



(That’s a typo in the fourth line of the poem.)

After I taped the poem, drove around the ATM to photograph it from different angles, and parked my car to head into Starbucks, I noticed three bank employees congregating around the poem. They must have seen me circling and taking pictures. With visions of security cameras in my head and no idea how these bankers would react to what could be called vandalism by poetry, I duckedYes, I ducked down in my front seat. When I came back up, they were gone and so was the poem.

But I did get a picture first:




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Hard to believe I’ve never left a poem at an ATM before. I rectified that situation today when I taped an excerpt from C.H. Sisson’s “Money” to a drive-through ATM.



You can read the complete poem here.


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