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Back From Vacation -- John Updike

Guest poem submitted by Vikram Doctor , as part of the
theme "Poetry at Work":
(Poem #538) Back From Vacation
 "Back from vacation", the barber announces,
 or the postman, or the girl at the drugstore, now tan.
 They are amazed to find the workaday world
 still in place, their absence having slipped no cogs,
 their customers having hardly missed them, and
 there being so sparse an audience to tell of the wonders,
 the pyramids they have seen, the silken warm seas,
 the nighttimes of marimbas, the purchases achieved
 in foreign languages, the beggars, the flies,
 the hotel luxury, the grandeur of marble cities.
 But at Customs the humdrum pressed its claims.
 Gray days clicked shut around them; the yoke still fit,
 warm as if never shucked. The world is still so small,
 the evidence says, though their hearts cry, "Not so!"
-- John Updike
 From 'For A Living: The Poetry of Work', ed. Nicholas Coles and Peter Oresick.

As in nearly anything he writes, Updike is elegant and skilful. We've all felt
the way he does; coming back after a holiday, our minds expanded, our day to day
world then seems so questionable and small. I must admit that most of my job
shifts tend to have followed holidays abroad, though I hope my boss never reads
this or I'd probably never get leave!

Another angle on the poem: I don't know where it was first published, but it
seems such a quintessentially magazine poem. You know what I mean - those neat,
not too long poems printed in magazines like the New Yorker. I suppose its silly
to think of them as a class of poems in themselves, but they seem to share
qualities: of being brevity and usually they tend to be mostly descriptive, with
a neat thought slipped in at the end, like this.

If that sounds condescending, it's not meant to be. I like reading poems like
that, small crunchy croutons threwn into larger stews of prose.

Vikram.

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New Release: Death of the Black Haired Girl by Robert Stone.
Surely Robert Stone is one of the best writers of individual scenes in all of our literature – think of the scene in A Flag for Sunrise where Tabor shoots his dogs, or in Children of Light where members of a film crew mistake the phrase “Bosch’s Garden” for “Butch’s Garden”, which they speculate is an S&M joint in Los Angeles.
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John Updike said...

Signs and signage – road signs, movie marquees, newspaper headlines real and imaginary, municipal signs, electronic message boards, storefronts, etc. – function as important indicators of the shifts, changes, and developments in Angstrom’s consciousness as he grows older throughout the decades chronicled in Updike’s ‘Rabbit’ series. Perhaps

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Signs and signage – road signs, movie marquees, newspaper headlines real and imaginary, municipal signs, electronic message boards, storefronts, etc. – function as important indicators of the shifts, changes, and developments in Angstrom’s consciousness as he grows older throughout the decades chronicled in Updike’s ‘Rabbit’ series.
http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2013/12/signs-and-signage-in-updikes-rabbit.html#.UyN2cj9dXxA

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What are we to make of these appearances of signs in the novels? For one thing, Updike is obviously including them in these fictions as part of his desire to present real slices of life from late twentieth century American society – what it is/was like to live in this time, in this place
http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2013/12/signs-and-signage-in-updikes-rabbit.html#.UyN2cj9dXxA

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What are we to make of these appearances of signs in the novels? For one thing, Updike is obviously including them in these fictions as part of his desire to present real slices of life from late twentieth century American society – what it is/was like to live in this time, in this place
http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2013/12/signs-and-signage-in-updikes-rabbit.html#.UyN2cj9dXxA

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