A Son with a Future

By Charles Reznikoff 1894–1976 Charles Reznikoff
When he was four years old, he stood at the window during a
    thunderstorm. His father, a tailor, sat on the table sewing.
    He came up to his father and said, “I know what makes
    thunder: two clouds knock together.”
When he was older, he recited well-known rants at parties.
    They all said that he would be a lawyer.
At law school he won a prize for an essay. Afterwards, he
    became the chum of an only son of rich people. They   
    were said to think the world of the young lawyer.   
The Appellate Division considered the matter of his disbarment.
    His relatives heard rumours of embezzlement.

When a boy, to keep himself at school, he had worked in a   
    drug store.
Now he turned to this half-forgotten work, among perfumes
    and pungent drugs, quiet after the hubble-bubble of the
    courts and the search in law books.
He had just enough money to buy a drug store in a side
    street.
Influenza broke out. The old tailor was still keeping his shop
    and sitting cross-legged on the table sewing, but he was
    half-blind.
He, too, was taken sick. As he lay in bed he thought, “What a
    lot of money doctors and druggists must be making; now
    is my son’s chance.”
They did not tell him that his son was dead of influenza.

From The Poems of Charles Reznikoff by Charles Reznikoff, Edited by Seamus Cooney. Reprinted by permission of Black Sparrow Books, an imprint of David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc. Copyright 2005 by Charles Reznikoff.

Source: Poems 1918-1975: The Complete Poems of Charles Reznikoff (Black Sparrow Press, 1977)

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Poet Charles Reznikoff 1894–1976

SCHOOL / PERIOD Objectivist

Subjects Living

 Charles  Reznikoff

Biography

Emerson remarked that the best writers often have the shortest biographies. The genius “draws up the ladder after him,” and the world, which had consigned him to obscurity during his lifetime, “sees the works and asks in vain for a history.”
 
Whatever judgment may ultimately be passed upon him, not much more than his works is ever likely to be known of Charles Reznikoff. He left no fervent disciples. The record he wished to . . .

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SUBJECT Living

SCHOOL / PERIOD Objectivist

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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