By William Hathaway William Hathaway
It’s now all about money
about which poetry rarely reaches
transcendence. But love must still fester
even under that. Everyone I know
frets if poetry can still matter,
but what about love? It’s all become
too much for them, and they’re all
on the soma. It makes sense
with these pills when the someone
they thought they loved for years
by never thinking about it says,
“I don’t love you anymore,
but let’s stay friends in that mellow
woebegone way poetry now
sings without singing.” Of course,
they’re always asking “What is poetry?”
and then answering by saying
it’s what Boethius was thinking about
when they squished his head
until his eyes popped out,
or anything barbaric enough to get
everyone to stop eating for a bit
and reach for a moment past
a chatty moment. Sort of a solution
to awkward goodbyes. How money
becomes a sort of welcome
relief that defuses the poetry
charging tense moments. “Interesting,”
someone remarks between bites,
“to be right here in the moment
yet also out there watching
some once-in-a-lifetime sublimity
unfold, as if living as if already
dead.” As if standing in a dream far up
in the stars somewhere with Scipio
and seeing how little love matters,
or poetry for that matter,
considering how glory endures
only in glittering plunder. But best
of all, all of it stays just sort of
as if.

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 Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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