Ode to Coal

Ode to Coal

Ode to Coal

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Feb. 19 1998 3:30 AM

Ode to Coal

Ode to Coal


By Steve Orlen

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(posted Wednesay, Feb. 18)

To hear the poet read "Ode to Coal," click here.

How modest it seems, how bashful,
This lump dug up from the bowels of the earth,
Still giving off its vegetable gases.
Is it waiting to become a diamond?

I'll bet Pablo Neruda, that great poet
Of the spiritual mundane,
Wrote an ode to coal,
Then burned it to ash in the fireplace.

Now he had two coals, and neither would warm him.

He took a long walk out and watched
The cabbages grow and the dogs give birth
And the flies gather and scatter and die.

Overhead he watched what he thought to be the gods
In their comings and goings, coupling and fighting,
Sitting around a table making plans.

Then he strolled about the countryside
Praising a universe in which nothing happens,
Nothing at all.

Steve Orlen's most recent book is Kisses. He teaches in the creative-writing program at the University of Arizona and in the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College.