By William Hathaway William Hathaway
Today a celebrity chimpanzee went postal,
tearing up a woman’s face in Connecticut.
And as the Taliban were given the suburbs
of Swat in which to stone to death women
taken in adultery, a Muslim in New York
whose radio station promoted Islam
as the most humane religion cut off
his wife’s head. Tomorrow, of course,
will be another day, but we live one day
at a time. Yesterday I uncovered the ribbon
snake in the woodpile, stiff and cold
in its winter sleep. A new urgency for spring:
I put the split log back and took my wood
from the farther end of the last stack.

What’s with the chimp? I wondered,
driving between filthy snowbanks past stark
trees like bony hands clawing up out
of the frozen earth to grab a gray heaven.
My wife thinks it’s all that wireless buzz
hissing unbeknownst through everyone’s
brains. I lean more toward toilet training.

For sure, it began to go bad one unknown day
before history when the last man
was browbeaten to step beyond a globe
of golden firelight to drain his dragon
in outer darkness. But we can’t dwell
in the past, can we? “To spring out on”
we call hereabouts the firewood we wade
through crusted snow to cut in March.
Someone just might have to wake up
early this year. But, then, let’s just try
to stay in the day, shall we?

Source: Poetry (October 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the October 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2009
 William  Hathaway


William Hathaway was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1944 and grew up in Ithaca, New York. He earned a BA from the University of Montana and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His recent books of poetry include Sightseer (2000), Promeneur Solitaire (2005), and The Right No (2012). He has taught at numerous institutions including the University of Louisiana, Cornell University, Union College, and Southampton-LIU. In the 1960s . . .

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Poems by William Hathaway

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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