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Sacramento O No

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An asparagus eating contest—
I thought I’d misheard.

Downstairs the rude old man
lays tile, makes demasiado noise.
I fell asleep at last around 5:30 am
and he woke me an hour later or so:
it is better I don’t look
at the clock. By this means
I clock my progress: I know now
it is sometimes better not to
know. I have midnight equilibrium
but it is gone by 3 am.

Thank you for Cloud of Sparrows,
man who wrote it. I read all night.
Thank you for the pen from Iran, Kamyar.
Its myriad stars have just run out of ink
eleven years on.

Thank you, sun, for leaf shadows
on horrible carpet in horrible box
I live in and for tree by which I mean
what’s living. I think of the gardens
I planted and left. I think of beets,
of beans and asparagus. Then
on the radio, hear the contest.

The noise of ten lanes of traffic
does not cancel the consolation
of seeing the wind
in the sweetgum leaves.
The experience of this
is my food and my sleep.

As at some strange customs,
I declare.  


Source: Poetry (July/August 2011)

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

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Sacramento O No

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  • Liz Waldner grew up in rural Mississippi and earned a BA in mathematics and philosophy at St. John’s College and an MFA at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Her first book of poetry, Homing Devices (1998), came after an 18-year silence; since then, Waldner has published prolifically. Her recent books include A Point Is That Which Has No Part (2000), which won both the Iowa Poetry Prize and the James Laughlin Award, Self and Simulacra (2001), Dark Would (the missing person) (2002), Trust (2009), and Play (2009).
     
    Waldner’s work is known for its formal experimentation, reliance on quotation and pastiche, and often playful rhyme schemes. Using long titles, made-up words, and expansive proselike sentences that change topic quickly and constantly, Waldner’s verse, according to poet-critic Stephen Burt, “pays constant homage to the delights of the senses; beside her, most similarly difficult present-day poets seem arid, theoretical, no fun.”

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