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Sunday, May 09, 2004


Jonathan David Jackson

Quotidian delights and the genealogical momment... what's so magical about this poem--and I must say, Benjamin, if this one and "Frankie Gets Lucky" are any indications, you have emerged into a distinct, deeply meaningful style these days and I might suggest gathering them into a fascicle and sending them to the Poetry Society of America's chapbook competition or anywhere really--what's so magical about this poem is the way in which it stays within the experiential moment. It begins with an uncertain address--"I think...embarrassed"--and this uncertainty about the relative is the crux of the poem and it's ability to capture an unpredictable family moment and at the same time illuminate a character. The reader--me--doesn't know who is being addressed but this is not some elision. The poem's vernacular staging allows us to listen in and over hear an everday address broken up, indeed, complicated, by a subtly theatrical recollection; the incident so upsets the rememberer and the "you" that, in fact, they do not engage the quotidian act referenced in the title: that is, lunch. What a wonderful poem!

Richard Silverstein

I'd rather approach the poem on a purely human emotional level. I feel so badly for your mother & you who (if I read the poem right) had to witness your father's infidelity in a particulary traumatic & humiliating way.

I too endured a humiliating childhood filled with abuse that was emotional & physical at my parents hands. But there was no infidelity involved in their marriage. I just wish they had never gotten married to begin with (though I would never have been born & never met my father, who could be quite a nice human being--once we grew up & he stopped taking his tantrums out on us).

Richard Silverstein

Oops, I misread it! It was you & your grandmother & he was already married to the "other woman." But that doesn't lessen the sense of humiliation yr. grandma must've felt. My heart goes out to her.

BTW, I met Mel Swig (some kind of relation to yr. grandma I presume) a few times in the 1990s because I did fundraising for Brandeis U. & he was a 'nominal' board member. "Nominal" might be unfair, but by the time I knew him he pretty much wanted off the board.

Ben G.

I am fortunate not to have suffered abuse from either of my parents. I wish my father could have said the same about his parents. I just started digging around for something he wrote in the 1980s, a prayer of sorts, about his feeling painfully bound to follow the religous commandment to "honor thy mother and father." When his piece turns up, I'll post it . . .

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