The Bitterness of Children

By Thomas Lux b. 1946 Thomas Lux
Foreseeing typographical errors   
on their gravestones, the children   
from infancy—are bitter.
Little clairvoyants, blond, in terror.

Foreseeing the black and yellow   
room behind the eyelids, the children   
are bitter—from infancy.
The blue egg of thirst: say hello.

Foreseeing the lower lips of glaciers   
sliding toward their own lips, the children   
from infancy—are bitter.
Them, rats, snakes: the chased and chasers.

Foreseeing a dust-filled matchbox, the heart,   
the temples’ temples closing, the children   
are bitter—from infancy.
From the marrow in the marrow: the start.

Thomas Lux, “The Bitterness of Children” from New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995. Copyright © 1997 by Thomas Lux. Used by the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: New and Selected Poems 1975-1995 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Thomas Lux b. 1946

Subjects Youth, Disappointment & Failure, Infancy, Living

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Thomas  Lux

Biography

Acclaimed poet and teacher Thomas Lux began publishing haunted, ironic poems that owed much to the Neo-surrealist movement in the 1970s. Critically lauded from his first book Memory’s Handgrenade (1972), Lux’s poetry has gradually evolved towards a more direct treatment of immediately available, though no less strange, human experience. Often using ironic or sardonic speakers, startlingly apt imagery, careful rhythms, and . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Youth, Disappointment & Failure, Infancy, Living

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.