Destitute Peru

By James Schuyler 1923–1991 James Schuyler

For John Ashbery

We pullmaned to Peoria. Was
Gladys glad, Skippy missed
Sookie so. So Peru-ward, home.
“I’ll sew buttons on dresses yet.”

Nike’s peach-knife nicked little
finger Chinese straw finger-cuffed
to Minna’s Siamesed. Hartford,
how are your wheres, our whens?

Or extirpated traumas’ gifted
guilt smothered aboard a club
car. Lake Ontario spilled
Jo Jo’s knapsack: “Pasternak.”

An alligator ate an alligator-
trapping monkey. We ate because
“it’s dark, it’s air-conditioned”
like lurching to the movies,

shot marbles in lobbies. What
interests? Takes? Escapes? Eat,
moth-light, part and apart, slowly
we slow waiters serve hot plates.

James Schuyler, "Destitute Peru" from Other Flowers: Uncollected Poems, edited by James Meetze and Simon Pettet, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by the Estate of James Schuyler. All rights reserved.

Source: Poetry (November 2009).


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

November 2009


Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Schuyler was a central member of the New York School.  He was born in Chicago, Illinois and spent his teen years in East Aurora, New York, before attending Bethany College in West Virginia. During World War II, Schuyler served on a destroyer in the North Atlantic and remained in the US Navy until 1947. Before moving to New York in 1950, Schuyler lived for two years on the Isle of Ischia in Italy . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Travels & Journeys

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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