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« Rest in Poetry and Peace, Robert Bly (1927-2021) | Main | The Assignment [by Walter Carey] »

November 28, 2021


Good stuff

Ah, romance! A unrequited love! This is a wonderful rendering of loss via hilarity. Tragedy plus time equals comedy, equals this beautifully touching poem.

What Denise said. Plus I am always grateful for a Real Surprise. Woo hoo.

what a wonderful poem and poet and post....deliciously satisfying as well as provocatively poignant, or vice versa...

What a dream, shifting forward in each well measured line, each pulse, popping with surprise until its end when the speaker subtly actually never dies, whose pupils still follow that "thumb pointing northward." I love the clarity irony sudden horror/pleasure the fullest life-force of this poem.

Love hurts. With that sweet tip on the arrow. Reuben Jackson says it so well.

Great to see one of Reuben's poems here. I've admired Reuben's poetry and his approach to life for a very long time. Thanks for this, Terence.

A bebop murder poem with a good humored attitude throughout, and hey the speaker should have just kept listening to Cecil Taylor and kept driving on by. But whatcha gonna do when a beautiful ex beckons--delete her email? Just try! Great poem!!!!

Howard: thanks for the comment.

What makes you think I'm not still alive? And married? In Philadelphia?

This is such an unusual poem for Reuben. Goes to show the man travels places that would thrill an astronaut. He certainly thrills us.

Terrific poem!

This poetic dream seems to confirm for the gifted author how intense is his love for Donna, but warns how dangerous that love could be. I am inclined to see this poem as the composition of one awake, but a real dream nonetheless.

Great poem.

You know I have to love the dreamlike poem. In dreams, as in the multiverse, sooner or later everything that can happen to us, will.
It's great to see a young poet at the start of their career recognized here. Mark my words, this fellow is going places :-)

The first revealing tip that the driver is viscerally distracted by the hitchhiker holding a sign comes in the sixth line: “I ignore the Cecil Taylor on the radio.” The music of pianist Cecil Taylor is, quite simply, not ignorable. A free-jazz precursor, Taylor deviated from bop and cool jazz with dissonances and single-note attacks of often astonishing ferocity. If you can turn your attention away from that, something else must be compelling you. (In the bio Reuben Jackson’s own steeping in jazz cannot be clearer than the title of his Washington, D.C., radio show, “The Sound of Surprise,” which comes from former NEW YORKER jazz critic Whitney Balliett’s famously succinct definition of jazz.) “November Poem” shares that slow, then sudden heightening of awareness leading to surprise. The poem also packs the jolt of accomplished film noir, executed with startling matter-of-factness and acceptance. The driver and hitchhiker collide in a way that’s almost wished-for, even foreordained. The poem is a marvel of deceptively easeful unfolding before and during what might be described as clinical carnage, followed by near-forgiveness ending in compliments for the hitchhiker: “still neat and considerate” and “her lovely thumb.” Like Cecil Taylor’s piano playing, the poem is virtuosically unsettling and may even tuck a threading snicker in its audacity. If Reuben Jackson ever decides to write other “monthly poems,” count me in as a rapt reader.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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