By George Starbuck
Virgin, sappy, gorgeous, the right-now
Flutters its huge prosthetics at us, flung
To the spotlights, frozen in motion, center-ice.
And the first rows, shaken with an afterslice
That’s bowled them into their seats like a big wet ciao.
O daffy panoply O rare device
O flashing leg-iron at a whopping price
Whipping us into ecstasies and how,
The whole galumphing Garden swung and swung,
A rescue helicopter’s bottom rung
Glinting and spinning off, a scud of fluff,
A slash of petals up against the bough,
A juggler’s avalanche of silken stuff
Gushing in white-hot verticals among
Camels and axels and pyramids, oh wow,
Bewilderment is parachute enough.
We jolt. A sidewise stutterstep in chorus.
The other billboards flicker by before us.
Gone! with a budded petulance that stung.
So talented! So targeted! So young!
Such concentration on the bottom line!
We vanish down the IRT. A shine.
A glimmer. Something. Nothing. To think twice
Was to have lost the trick of paradise.
George Starbuck, “Sign” from The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades. Copyright © 2003 by University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). Reprinted with the permission of The University of Alabama Press.
Source: The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades (2003)
George Starbuck was born in Columbus, Ohio. He attended the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, the University of Chicago, and Harvard University. Starbuck spent two years as a corporal in the Military Police Corps before working at various universities. Starbuck was also a contributor to numerous periodicals including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and Poetry magazine. He died in 1996 after a twenty-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
More By This Poet
Fable for Blackboard
Here is the grackle, people.
Here is the fox, folks.
The grackle sits in the bracken. The fox
Here are the fronds, friends,
that cover the fox.
The fronds get in a frenzy. The grackle
Here are the ticks, tykes,
that live in the leaves, loves.
Translations from the English
Pigfoot (with Aces Under) Passes
The heat’s on the hooker.
Drop’s on the lam.
Cops got Booker.
Who give a damn?
The Kid’s been had
But not me yet.
Dad’s in his pad.
Margaret Are You Drug
Cool it Mag.
Sure it’s a drag
With all that green flaked out.