Click on the pictures to see enlarged versions of the images.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Word with You

(Bright Objects Hypnotize the Mind,
the poster for the celebration of this
year's National Poetry Month, by
Stephen Doyle, found at

We begin this month’s festivities with the source of the line quoted in the poster above.


Look out! there’s that damned ape again
sit silently until he goes,
or else forgets the things he knows
(whatever they are) about us, then
we can begin to talk again.

Have you tried playing with your ring?
Sometimes that calms them down, I find.
(Bright objects hypnotize the mind.)
Get his attention on anything —
anything will do — there, try your ring.

The glitter pleases him. You see
he squints his eyes; his lip hangs loose.
You were saying? — Oh Lord, what’s the use,
for now the parrot’s after me
and the monkeys are awake. You see

how hard it is, you understand
this nervous strain in which we live —
Why just one luscious adjective
infuriates the whole damned band
and they’re squabbling for it. I understand

some people manage better. How?
They treat the creatures without feeling.
— Throw books to stop the monkeys’ squealing,
slap the ape and make him bow,
are firm, keep order, — but I don’t know how.

Quick! there’s the cockatoo! he heard!
(He can’t bear any form of wit.)
— Please watch out that you don’t get bit;
there’s not a thing escapes that bird.
Be silent, — now the ape has overheard.

~ Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), American poet laureate 1949-1950

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