“How to Listen” by Major Jackson
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
How to Listen
I am going to cock my head tonight like a dog in front of McGlinchy's Tavern on Locust; I am going to stand beside the man who works all day combing his thatch of gray hair corkscrewed in every direction. I am going to pay attention to our lives unraveling between the forks of his fine-tooth comb. For once, we won't talk about the end of the world or Vietnam or his exquisite paper shoes. For once, I am going to ignore the profanity and the dancing and the jukebox so I can hear his head crackle beneath the sky's stretch of faint stars.
from Leaving Saturn, 2002
The University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA
Copyright 2002 by Major Jackson.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of The University of Georgia Press from Leaving Saturn, 2002. Copyright 2002 by Major Jackson. For further permissions information, contact The University of Georgia Press, 330 Research Drive, Suite B-100, Athens, GA 30602-4901.
About the Poet
Major Jackson (1968- ) is the author of four poetry collections, including Roll Deep: Poems (W. W. Norton and Company, 2015). Jackson is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at University of Vermont and a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars.
Learn more about Major Jackson at The Poetry Foundation.