Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Louisiana Perch, by Ron Padgett

Today on Poetry Crossfire! we ask some of the tougher questions America is struggling to answer: Why don't veggie burgers make for good lyric poetry? If a waiter or waitress inspires a poem, is one obligated to tip more than 15 percent? And will someone, for God's sake, please pass the ketchup? Let's turn to our pundits.

Our guests:

Matthew Zapruder is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Come On All You Ghosts, from Copper Canyon.

Matthea Harvey is the author of three books of poems. Her most recent book is Of Lamb (McSweeney's), created in collaboration with the artist Amy Jean Porter.

The poem:

Louisiana Perch
by Ron Padgett

Certain words disappear from a language:
their meanings become attenuated,
grow antique, insanely remote or small,

Or become something else:
transport. Mack
the truck driver falls for a waitress
where the water flows.

The great words are those without meaning:
from a their or
Or the for a the
The those

The rest are fragile, transitory
like the waitress, a

beautiful slender young girl!
I love her! Want to
marry her! Have hamburgers!
Have hamburgers! Have hamburgers!

Ready, set, crossfire!

Matthew Zapruder: I regard almost every decision made in this poem from the title on down with almost complete bewilderment yet each time I read it find the end of the poem almost as enjoyable as actually eating a hamburger. Which is saying a lot.

Matthea Harvey: Pensive lyric to sound poem to ode! What a shimmy! I love a poem that swirls together love and hamburgers. This makes me want to take a photograph of a miniature trucker juggling hearts and hamburgers. And does anyone else hear an “or perch?” at the end?

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