Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Patricia Goedicke

by lizard

I went to my shelves this week with no idea what to pick, and pulled at random. After a few false starts, I grabbed a copy of Patricia Goedicke’s The Tongues We Speak (Milkweed Editions, 1989).

I love Patricia’s work, and constantly kick myself that I never took a class when I had the chance.

Patricia passed in 2006. The Washington Post’s obit is worth reading. I didn’t realize, for example, that Patricia

“…studied under W.H. Auden and Robert Frost, won a Rockefeller Foundation residency at the Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy, a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and the William Carlos Williams prize for poetry from New Letters magazine.”

Here’s the poem that jumped out at me. Enjoy!

*

In the Twilight Zone All I Know Is the Commercials

Big things in the wind:
Big dirty things in the wind.

All across America is that OUR underwear
Flapping on the clotheslines are those OUR mangy sheets

WELL I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHOSE THEY ARE

Gleaming like Abraham Lincoln’s spectacles
Are those my false teeth

Is that Thomas Jefferson’s flying heartache
Do those moth-eaten buffalo belong to me

WELL I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHOSE THEY ARE

Rolling around above me like a baseball
Is that my Babe Ruth, is that MY President
Eavesdropping on the other team’s plays,

Is that my scandal with the sincere hair and the baby blue eyes,
Is that my True Confessions, my tape recorder, my home-made bomb,

WELL I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHOSE THEY ARE

If I’m committing the sin of pride please stop me,
I MEAN I’M A RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN

Every four years I vote but I can’t help it,
Who can predict what will happen
In the Twilight Zone all I know is the commercials,

But if those aren’t my Congressmen or my Senators
If those aren’t my brown babies

If those aren’t my Jews
Expelled again, from the new Eden

Getting into the same old cattlecars, and wailing
like tattered black birds across the heavens

WELL I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHOSE THEY ARE

—Patricia Goedicke


  1. petetalbot

    Another gift to Montana and some thoughtful poetry for me. Thanks liz and Patricia. Especially in these times.

    • Another thing we agree on, Pete.

  2. Poetry relies on visual and oral communication to express one’s feeling.

  3. lizard19

    I appreciate the replies.

  4. cosmicgarden

    This was perfect for today.

  1. 1 Liz’s Weekly Poetry Series: Anticipating April | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Patricia Goedicke […]

  2. 2 152 Poetry Posts to Celebrate April, National Poetry Month | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Patricia Goedicke […]




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