“Keats” by Christopher Howell
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
I've known the pleasures of being fired at least eleven times- most notably by Larry who found my snood unsuitable, another time by Jack, whom I was sleeping with. Poor attitude, tardiness, a contagious lack of team spirit; I have been unmotivated squirting perfume onto little cards, while stocking salad bars, when stripping covers from romance novels, their heroines slaving on the chain gang of obsessive love- and always the same hard candy of shame dissolving in my throat; handing in my apron, returning the cash- register key. And yet, how fine it feels, the perversity of freedom which never signs a rent check or explains anything to one's family. I've arrived again, taking one more last walk through another door, thinking “I am what is wrong with America,” while outside in the emptied, post-rushhour street, the sun slouches in a tulip tree and the sound of a neighborhood pool floats up on the heat.
From Light’s Ladder
University of Washington Press, 2004
Copyright 2004 Christopher Howell.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of University of Washington Press. Copyright 2004 by Christopher Howell. For further permissions information, contact Denise Clark, University of Washington Press, 1326 5th Ave., Ste. 555, Seattle, WA 98101, (206) 543-4057, firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Poet
Christopher Howell is the author of nine poetry collections, including Dreamless and Possible: Poems New and Selected (University of Washington Press, 2013).
Learn more about Christopher Howell at Eastern Oregon University.