Something Amazing Just Happened

By Ted Berrigan 1934–1983 Ted Berrigan

for Jim Carroll, on his birthday

A lovely body gracefully is nodding
Out of a blue Buffalo
                                    Monday morning
                                                                 curls
softly rising color the air
                                         it’s yellow
above the black plane
                                    beneath a red tensor
 
I’ve been dreaming. The telephone kept ringing & ringing
Clear & direct, purposeful yet pleasant, still taking pleasure
in bringing the good news, a young man in horn-rims’ voice
                                                                                                   is speaking
while I listen. Mr. Berrigan, he says, & without waiting for an answer
            goes on,
I’m happy to be able to inform you that your request for
            a Guggenheim Foundation Grant
Has been favorably received by the committee, & approved. When
            would you like to leave?
 
Uh, not just yet, I said, uh, what exactly did I say with regards to
            leaving, in my application … I’m a little hazy at the moment.
 
Yes. Your project, as outlined in your application for a grant for the
            purpose
of giving Jim Carroll the best possible birthday present you could get
            him, through our Foundation, actually left the project, that is,
            how the monies
would be spent, up to us. You indicated, wisely, I think, that we knew
            more about what kind of project we would approve than you did,
            so we should
make one up for you, since all you wanted was money, to buy Jim a
            birthday gift.
 
Aha! I said. So, what’s up?
 
We have arranged for you and Jim to spend a year in London, in a
            flat off of King’s Row.
You will receive 250 pounds a month expenses, all travel expenses
            paid, & a clothing allowance of 25 pounds each per month.
            During the year,
At your leisure, you might send us from time to time copies of your
            London works. By year’s end I’m sure you each will have enough
            new poems for two books,
Which we would then publish in a deluxe boxed hardcover edition,
            for the rights to which we shall be prepared to pay a considerable
            sum, as is your due.
We feel that this inspired project will most surely result in The first
            major boxed set of works since Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry
            Finn! Innocents Abroad
in reverse, so to speak! We know your poems, yours & Jim’s, will tell it
            like it is, & that is what we are desperate to know! So, when
            would you like to leave?
Immediately, I shouted! & Jim! I called, Jim! Happy Birthday! Wake up!

Ted Berrigan, "Something Amazing Just Happened" from The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan. Copyright © 2007 by Ted Berrigan.  Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: Selected Poems (Penguin Books, 1994)

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Poet Ted Berrigan 1934–1983

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Subjects Living, Birth & Birthdays, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Poetry & Poets

Biography

Ted Berrigan—Edmund Joseph Michael Berrigan Jr.—was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the oldest of three children of Margaret Dugan and Edmund Berrigan, the chief engineer at Ward’s Baking Company. On both sides the family was Irish Catholic. Berrigan attended local schools and entered Providence College, a local Catholic school, but left after a year and enlisted in the army.

Berrigan was sent to Korea in 1954 but never saw . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Birth & Birthdays, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Poetry & Poets

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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