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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Writing To Please


“Taking the time to polish a pun or fine-tune a practical joke is a way of saying, 'I'm thinking about you and I want to please you.” – Andrew Hudgins

Born into a military family on April 22, 1951, Hudgins moved around the American South for much of his childhood, eventually attending Huntingdon College and the University of Alabama. He earned his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1983. His first book of poetry, Saints and Strangers, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and his third, The Never-Ending, was a finalist for the National Book Award.           For Saturday’s Poem, here is Hudgins’,

Day Job and Night Job
After my night job, I sat in class
and ate, every thirteen minutes,
an orange peanut-butter cracker.
Bright grease adorned my notes.

At noon I rushed to my day job
and pushed a broom enough
to keep the boss calm if not happy.
In a hiding place, walled off

by bolts of calico and serge,
I read my masters and copied
Donne, Marlowe, Dickinson, and Frost,
scrawling the words I envied,

so my hand could move as theirs had moved
and learn outside of logic
how the masters wrote. But why? Words
would never heal the sick,

feed the hungry, clothe the naked,
blah, blah, blah.
Why couldn't I be practical,
Dad asked, and study law—

or take a single business class?
I stewed on what and why
till driving into work one day,
a burger on my thigh

and a sweating Coke between my knees,
I yelled, 'Because I want to!'—
pained—thrilled!—as I looked down
from somewhere in the blue

and saw beneath my chastened gaze
another slack romantic
chasing his heart like an unleashed dog
chasing a pickup truck.

And then I spilled my Coke. In sugar
I sat and fought a smirk.
I could see my new life clear before me.
lt looked the same. Like work.


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