To a Real Standup Piece of Painted Crockery

By George Starbuck 1931–1996 George Starbuck
I wonder what the Greeks kept in these comicstrip canisters.   
Plums, milletseed, incense, henna, oregano.
Speak to me, trove. Tell me you contained dried smoked tongue once.
Or a sorcerer or a cosmetologist’s powders and unguents.   
And when John Keats looked at you in a collection of pots   
it was poetry at first sight: quotable beautiful
teleological concatenations of thoughts.

It’s the proverbial dog of a poem, though:
slobbering panting and bright-eyed like a loquacious thug
or a spokesperson embattled on behalf of a sociopolitical thesis*
to which he has not had access owing to the need-to-know basis.

And he never says which pot. Just an oasis
of tease in a sea of tilth, kind of a concrete catachresis   
bopping along with timbrels, irrepressible as Count Basie,   
fabulous I mean classic I mean vout,
keeping the buckwheat in and the weevils out
while the rest of us get and spend and ache and earn
and go to the Bruce Springsteen concert and take our turn   
lining up at the Metropolitan to look at the Macedonian gold krater
and promising ourselves to read up seriously.

FOOTNOTES: *(Beauty : Truth = Ignorance : Bliss). Consult Précis.

George Starbuck, “To a Real Standup Piece of Painted Crockery” 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

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Ode

 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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Ode

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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