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.
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.
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?
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
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore
And schools are getting worried.
Global Marches Demand Action on Climate Change
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem
Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology.