By George Starbuck 1931–1996 George Starbuck
Virgin, sappy, gorgeous, the right-now   
Flutters its huge prosthetics at us, flung
To the spotlights, frozen in motion, center-ice.

And the first rows, shaken with an afterslice
That’s bowled them into their seats like a big wet ciao.   
O daffy panoply O rare device

O flashing leg-iron at a whopping price   
Whipping us into ecstasies and how,
The whole galumphing Garden swung and swung,

A rescue helicopter’s bottom rung   
Glinting and spinning off, a scud of fluff,   
A slash of petals up against the bough,

A juggler’s avalanche of silken stuff   
Gushing in white-hot verticals among   
Camels and axels and pyramids, oh wow,

Bewilderment is parachute enough.
We jolt. A sidewise stutterstep in chorus.   
The other billboards flicker by before us.

Gone! with a budded petulance that stung.   
So talented! So targeted! So young!   
Such concentration on the bottom line!

We vanish down the IRT. A shine.
A glimmer. Something. Nothing. To think twice   
Was to have lost the trick of paradise.

George Starbuck, “Sign” from The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades. Copyright © 2003 by University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). Reprinted with the permission of The University of Alabama Press.

Source: The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades (2003)

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Poet George Starbuck 1931–1996

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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 George  Starbuck


George Starbuck's songs of protest are usually concerned with love, war, and the spiritual temper of the times. John Holmes believes that "there hasn't been as much word excitement . . . for years," as one finds in Bone Thoughts. Harvey Shapiro points out that Starbuck's work is attractive because of its "witty, improvisational surface, slangy and familiar address, brilliant aural quality . . .," and adds that Starbuck may . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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