At the Poetry Reading

By John Brehm b. 1955 John Brehm
I can’t keep my eyes off the poet’s
wife’s legs—they’re so much more
beautiful than anything he might
be saying, though I’m no longer
in a position really to judge,
having stopped listening some time ago.
He’s from the Iowa Writers Workshop
and can therefore get along fine
without my attention. He started in
reading poems about his childhood—
barns, cornsnakes, gradeschool, flowers,
that sort of stuff—the loss of
innocence he keeps talking about
between poems, which I can relate to,
especially under these circumstances.
Now he’s on to science, a poem
about hydrogen, I think, he’s trying
to imagine himself turning into hydrogen.
Maybe he’ll succeed. I’m imagining
myself sliding up his wife’s fluid,
rhythmic, lusciously curved, black-
stockinged legs, imagining them arched
around my shoulders, wrapped around my back.
My God, why doesn’t he write poems about her!
He will, no doubt, once she leaves him,
leaves him for another poet, perhaps,
the observant, uninnocent one, who knows
a poem when it sits down in a room with him.



Source: Poetry (June 1998).

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This poem originally appeared in the June 1998 issue of Poetry magazine

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June 1998
 John  Brehm

Biography

John Brehm was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and educated at the University of Nebraska and Cornell University. He is the author of Sea of Faith, which won the 2004 Brittingham Prize, and Help Is on the Way (2012), winner of the Four Lakes Prize from the University of Wisconsin Press. In the Georgia Review, Judith Kitchen praised Sea of Faith for its “unified consistency of tone and sophistication of approach,” remarking that the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Love, Men & Women, The Body, Poetry & Poets, Desire

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Ars Poetica

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