Three Poems

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Jan. 8 2013 9:17 AM

Three Poems

Train in station.

Photograph by Ron/Comstock/Jupiterimages/Thinkstock.

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear T.R. Hummer read "Imperial." You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

“Imperial”

There are few still standing now who remember
    when they sold Prince Albert in a can.
He was beautifully dressed, a fine trope of a man,
    with a beard, and a nose, and slender
As the riding crop the Queen used to punish him
    when he forgot his place—inside the oblong tin
Farmers bought in country stores: imperially thin
    like Richard Cory in the famous poem.*
They were near contemporaries. But you can’t imagine
    the Prince Consort doing himself in.
In my mind he rides close to the hearts of men
    in work-shirt pockets; he ministers to the ways
Of colonials blind to the pressure of Victoria’s corset stays.

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear T.R. Hummer read "Pandrol Jackson." You can also download the recording.

“Pandrol Jackson”

Along a derelict railroad, abandoned machinery takes
    its last tour of duty toward rust. Another town is stalling.
Another house smolders with rot while a television rages.
    Crows patrol banked cinders beside a landfill with a sign:
No Dumping.
We were Jews in Austria. No, we spoke German
    in Czechoslovakia—by order of the Alliance, we filed
Into a railroad car and died. No, we were black in Arkansas.
    Here is a filthy contraption, like a grim lawn mower
With flanged iron wheels, Pandrol Jackson in blue paint
    on its rotted housing: a rail grinder, used to polish steel
To brilliance, forgotten here as after the Rapture. And the carcass
    of a boxcar warps just down the track, groaning with a cargo of bones.

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear T.R. Hummer read "Bloodflower Sermon." You can also download the recording.

“Bloodflower Sermon”

The wind has windflowers, the sea anemones,
    death its endless procession of white bouquets.
We homeless ones circle a field in the guise of nightshade,
    absent our own blossoming. We nameless ones drop
No petals on the sandstone patio. A turbulent shaft of light
    strips us down to our essence and beats us raw.
What chance did we ever have, Great Ones, to be anything
    but planted in tilth in the end, and sentenced to calcium?

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site.

Correction, Jan. 14, 2013: Because of a production error, the poem "Imperial" originally misspelled Richard Cory's last name. (Return to the corrected verse.)

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The NFL Has No Business Punishing Players for Off-Field Conduct. Leave That to the Teams.

Meet the Allies the U.S. Won’t Admit It Needs in Its Fight Against ISIS

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Medical Examiner

How to Stop Ebola

Survivors might be immune. Let’s recruit them to care for the infected.

History

America in Africa

The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.

New GOP Claim: Hillary Clinton’s Wealth and Celebrity Are Tricks to Disguise Her Socialism

Why the Byzantine Hiring Process at Universities Drives Academics Batty

Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 3:29 PM The Fascinating Origins of Savannah, Georgia’s Distinctive Typeface
  News & Politics
History
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM America in Africa The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Education
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM Why Your Cousin With a Ph.D. Is a Basket Case  Understanding the Byzantine hiring process that drives academics up the wall.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 23 2014 11:37 PM How to Stop Ebola Could survivors safely care for the infected?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?