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January 13, 2005

Poetry Corner

It was that time of the week again: time for poetry corner. I thought, why not include something, you know, cancerous, just for a change of pace?

So, in honor of, well, sarcoma, this week's poetry corner comes from the ever brilliant Raymond Carver:


What The Doctor Said

He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I'm real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn't catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong

- Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver (1938 - 1988)
Text lifted from Americanpoems.com:

The American short story writer and poet Raymond Carver was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, on May 25, 1938, and lived in Port Angeles, Washington during his last ten, sober years until his death from cancer on August 2, 1988. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1979 and was twice awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1983 Carver received the prestigious Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award which gave him $35,000 per year tax free and required that he give up any employment other than writing, and in 1985 Poetry magazine's Levinson Prize. In 1988 he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Hartford. He received a Brandeis Citation for fiction in 1988. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages.

At least that's the basic biography. Of course there's no room in it for the nature of the hardship he and his family went through during most of those fifty years between birth and death. There's no mention of his marriage at 19, the birth of his two children, Christine and Vance, by the time he was 21. No mention of his sometimes ferocious fights with his first wife, Maryann. No mention, either, of his near death, the hospitalizations - four times in 1976 and 1977 - for acute alcoholism.

Posted by Dan at January 13, 2005 10:59 PM

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