By August Kleinzahler b. 1949 August Kleinzahler
A faint smell of urine
embroidering that bouquet of mold the big cushions   
give off days the fog won’t lift,

and a shelf of bone
growing out over the eyelids like evening’s shadow   
across a field of corn—

The whole parade
leaking out from your shoulders, bequeathing   
to the groin a pang of distance;

then that metallic taste in the mouth   
and a voice you had let yourself believe   
was dead

close now by your ear, intimate and sweet:

                                  Well, well, well,   
look what we have here.

August Kleinzahler, “Disappointment” from Live from the Hong Kong Club: Poems, 1975-1990. Copyright © 2000 by August Kleinzahler. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved. Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Source: Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2000)

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Poet August Kleinzahler b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Disappointment & Failure, Living

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 August  Kleinzahler


Often described a “pugnacious” and a “pugilist poet,” August Kleinzahler’s reputation rests on his jazzy, formally inventive and energetic poetry, though he has also garnered notice as something of a bad-boy literary outsider prone to picking fights with the establishment. Hailing originally from Fort Lee, New Jersey, and a long-time resident of San Francisco, Kleinzahler’s fame as a colloquial poet of “dive bars, greasy soup, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Disappointment & Failure, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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