Subscribe to Granta today

Three poems

|

In the third in a series showcasing important contemporary poets, Granta.com publishes three poems by Katha Pollitt, whose debut collection, Antarctic Traveller, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. Her new collection, The Mind-Body Problem, in which the poems below appear, is published by Random House in June.

Job

Worse than the boils and sores
and the stench and the terrible flies
was the nattering: Think.
You must have done something.
Things happen for a reason.
What goes around.

His life swept off in a whirlwind of camels and children!
Still, he knew enough to shut up
when his skin cleared pink as a baby’s
and overnight lambs blanketed the burnt fields.
People even said he looked taller
in his fine new robes: You see?
When one door closes, two doors open.

Nobody wanted to hear
about the rain or its father
or leviathan slicing the deeps
at the black edge of the world
under the cold blue light of the Pleiades.

The new sons were strong and didn’t ask difficult questions,
the new daughters beautiful, with glass-green eyes.

Old

No one left to call me Penelope,
mourned the old countess, on being informed of the death
of her last childhood friend. Did she sit long

in the drafty hall, thinking, That’s it then,
nobody left but hangers-on and flunkeys,
why go on? Death can’t help but look friendly
when all your friends live there, while more and more

each day’s like a smoky party
where the music hurts and strangers insist that they know you
till you blink and smile and fade into the wall
and stare at your drink and take a book off the shelf

and close your eyes for a minute and suddenly
everyone you came in with has gone
and people are doing strange things in the corners.
No wonder you look at your watch

and say to no one in particular
If you don’t mind, I think I’ll go home now.

Silent Letter

It’s what you don’t hear
that says struggle
as in wrath and wrack
and wrong and wrench and wrangle.

The noiseless wriggle
of a hooked worm
might be a shiver of pleasure
not a slow writhing

on a scythe from nowhere.
So too the seeming leisure
of a girl alone in her blue
bedroom late at night

who stares at the bitten
end of her pen
and wonders how to write
so that what she writes

stays written.

Read On: Katha Pollitt speaks to Adam Gopnik

Comments (15)

You need to create an account or log in to comment.

  1. poetlover4you

    Sun Nov 22 12:23:25 GMT 2009

    Marvelous, all 3 poems - not a wasted word anywhere !

    I am on my own Odyssey looking for Penelope. Write on, Katha !!!

    David Panckeri, another poet of the particular

    #
  2. Dewa Poker

    Tue Apr 01 17:35:56 BST 2014

    http://ligabebek.com Agen Bola http://ligabebek.com Agen Bola Terpercaya http://ligabebek.com Agen Sbobet http://ligabebek.com Casino Sbobet http://ligabebek.com Bola Tangkas http://ligabebek.com Ibcebt | http://ligatop.com/ Bandar Bola http://ligatop.com/ Bandar Bola Online http://ligatop.com/ Situs Bandar Bola http://ligatop.com/ Agen Bandar Bola http://ligatop.com/ Bandar Bola Terpercaya | http://tangkaspro.com/ Bola Tangkas http://tangkaspro.com/ Bola Tangkas Terpercaya http://tangkaspro.com/ Bola Tangkas Online http://tangkaspro.com/ Agen Bola Tangkas http://tangkaspro.com/ Agen Bola Tangkas Online http://tangkaspro.com/ Tangkas Online http://tangkaspro.com/ Agen Tangkas Online

    #
  3. Dewa Poker

    Tue Apr 01 17:35:11 BST 2014

  4. Dewa Poker

    Tue Apr 01 17:35:39 BST 2014

    Excellent ideas! The way you laid out this post made a lot of sense http://www.mahapoker.com/ Dewa Poker. You really helped me and http://www.mahapoker.com/ Permainan Poker this was exactly what I was looking for. You made it http://www.mahapoker.com/ Poker Online very easy for me to understand, and it greatly helped me out http://www.mahapoker.com/ Game Poker. I'm sure you'll reach so many people with what you've got to say http://www.mahapoker.com/ Poker Online Indonesia
    For those guys who are looking for http://www.mahapoker.com/ Agen Poker a high quality essay writing services there is a good http://www.mahapoker.com/ Poker Uang Asli news for them because now they can make best essay with http://www.mahapoker.com/ Agen Poker Online the help of high quality services http://www.mahapoker.com/support/carabermain.html Cara Bermain Poker

    #
  5. ola Niyi

    Thu Mar 06 18:16:23 GMT 2014

  6. palunyathor

    Mon Apr 07 11:51:44 BST 2014

    thank you, nice article

    Dunia Kerja http://www.duniaprofesional.com

    #
  7. Kirea

    Wed Jan 29 02:43:06 GMT 2014

    Reading your article was a real pleasure for me – it is very well written and obviously you know a lot about the subject (I even suspect that you haven't said all you know, in fact). You have one more regular visitor from now on! http://foto.szkraby.eu

    #
  8. Kirea

    Sun Feb 02 01:54:39 GMT 2014

    Fantastic work and very well-written article. I will recommend reading it to all my friends! http://czlowiekzhobby.net.pl

    #