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The List of Most Difficult Words -- Len Roberts

Guest poem submitted by Ajit Narayanan:

Monday's poem ('My Father's Love Letters') reminded me, in spirit and
in content, of this one:
(Poem #1291) The List of Most Difficult Words
 I was still standing although
 Gabriella Wells and Barbara Ryan were too,
 their bodies dark against the wall of light
 that dull-pewter December afternoon,
 shadows with words that flowed
 so easily from their mouths,
 fluorescent and grievous,
 pied and effervescent,
 words I'd spelled out to the rhythm
 of my father's hoarse whispers
 during our nightly practice sessions
 beneath the dim bulb,
 superfluous, excelsior,
 desultory and exaggeration
 mixed with his Schaefer breath
 and Lucky Strike smoke

 as I went down
 The List of Most Difficult Words
 with a man whose wife had left,
 one son grown into madness,
 the other into death,
 my father's hundred and five-pound skeleton
 of skin glowing in that beer-flooded kitchen
 when he'd lift the harmonica

 to blow a few long, sad riffs
 of country into a song
 while he waited for me to hit
 the single l of spiraling,
 the silent i of receipt,
 the two of us working words hard
 those nights on Olmstead Street,
 sure they would someday save me.
-- Len Roberts
Like a lot of beautiful poems, it's difficult to pinpoint _where_
exactly the beauty of Roberts' poem lies. Perhaps it's the sudden shift
from one image to another, but nonetheless conveying, with great
expressiveness, the relationship between a father and his son. His
choice of difficult words isn't too bad either!

Roberts is a fairly established poet, having published seven books of
poetry and having won several awards. Several of his poems can be found
here:
        http://www.worldpoetry.com/poets/roberts.len.html

LEN ROBERTS, a professor of English at Northampton Community College,
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has published seven collections of poetry. One
of them, Black Wings, was selected for the National Poetry Series in
1989. His work has appeared in many journals, including The American
Poetry Review, The Hudson Review, and Poetry.
        -- [broken link] http://www.press.uillinois.edu/s98/roberts.html

60 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

RandyKCross said...

Len Roberts' poem, "The List of Most Difficult Words," is a fine example of
his marvelous ability to transform the ordinary into the universal. I don't
know of a finer poet writing today.

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