The Author to His Body on Their Fifteenth Birthday, 29 ii 80

By Howard Nemerov 1920–1991 Howard Nemerov

“There’s never a dull moment in the human body.”
—The Insight Lady

Dear old equivocal and closest friend,   
Grand Vizier to a weak bewildered king,   
Now we approach The Ecclesiastean Age
Where the heart is like to go off inside your chest   
Like a party favor, or the brain blow a fuse   
And the comic-book light-bulb of Idea black out   
Forever, the idiot balloon of speech   
Go blank, and we shall know, if it be knowing,   
The world as it was before language once again;

Mighty Fortress, maybe already mined   
And readying to blow up grievances   
About the lifetime of your servitude,
The body of this death one talkative saint   
Wanted to be delivered of (not yet!),   
Aggressively asserting your ancient right   
To our humiliation by the bowel
Or the rough justice of the elderly lecher’s   
Retiring from this incontinence to that;

Dark horse, it’s you we’ve put the money on   
Regardless, the parody and satire and
The nevertheless forgiveness of the soul   
Or mind, self, spirit, will or whatever else
The ever-unknowable unknown is calling itself
This time around—shall we renew our vows?   
How should we know by now how we might do   
Divorced? Homely animal, in sickness and health,   
For the duration; buddy, you know the drill.

Howard Nemerov, “The Author to His Body on Their Fifteenth Birthday, 29 ii 80” from Sentences. Copyright © 1980 by Howard Nemerov. Reprinted with the permission of Margaret Nemerov.

Source: Sentences (The University of Chicago Press, 1980)

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Poet Howard Nemerov 1920–1991

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Growing Old, Friends & Enemies, Health & Illness, Separation & Divorce, Living, Relationships

Occasions Birthdays

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

 Howard  Nemerov

Biography

Howard Nemerov was a highly acclaimed poet often cited for the range of his capabilities and subject matter, "from the profound to the poignant to the comic," James Billington remarked in his frequently quoted announcement of Nemerov's appointment to the post of United States poet laureate. A distinguished professor at Washington University in St. Louis from 1969 to 1990, Nemerov wrote poetry and fiction that managed to engage . . .

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SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Growing Old, Friends & Enemies, Health & Illness, Separation & Divorce, Living, Relationships

Poetic Terms Blank Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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