Catalogue Raisonné of My Refrigerator Door

By George Starbuck 1931–1996 George Starbuck

for Joshua Starbuck, master of montage

A Caledonian megalith.
A tinted bather from Cape Ann.   
The 1937 kith
and kin of a Kentuckian   
beside their Model T sedan.
The Celts. Who set me this arith-
metic of icons? Who began   
by pasting in Bob Dylan? Zith-
erpicking rhinestone charlatan.   
He tries to be American.

Who tries to be American
as hard as him? Not Aly Khan.   
Not George F. Babbitt the Zenith-
ophiliac Zenithian.
As sure as God made Granny Smith   
a pricier-sounding product than   
the Winesap or the Jonathan,   
there is a mystery and myth   
to being an American,
and being an American

compounds it. Kurosawa-san,   
steady my Nikon while I pan   
across the porches of forsyth-
iabedizened Mattapan
in search of ... dot dot dot ... the plan,   
the weltanschauung, the ethnith-
ifying principle a pith
helmeted Oxbridge fancy-dan
could pounce on like a fiend from Ran
and authenticate forthwith.

The cromlech beetles o’er the frith.   
The ultimate American
possession rattles his Kal-Kan,   
Prince, you’re a prince. A dog a man   
can talk to. What this caravan   
of adumbrations and antith-   
esises panteth for is Dith
Pran and the long-lost Mrs. Pran:   
Far-fetched, tenacious, captious: fan   
tabulously American.

George Starbuck, “Catalogue Raisonné of My Refrigerator Door Of Late” from The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades. Copyright © 2003 by University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). Reprinted with the permission of The University of Alabama Press.

Source: Poetry (October/November 1987).

 George  Starbuck


George Starbuck's songs of protest are usually concerned with love, war, and the spiritual temper of the times. John Holmes believes that "there hasn't been as much word excitement . . . for years," as one finds in Bone Thoughts. Harvey Shapiro points out that Starbuck's work is attractive because of its "witty, improvisational surface, slangy and familiar address, brilliant aural quality . . .," and adds that Starbuck may . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, Humor & Satire

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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