I’d have you known! It puzzles me forever   
To hear, day in, day out, the words men use,   
But never a single word about you, never.   
Strange!—in your every gesture, worlds of news.   
On busses people talk. On curbs I hear them;   
In parks I listen, barbershop and bar.   
In banks they murmur, and I sidle near them;   
But none allude to you there. None so far.

I read books too, and turn the pages, spying:   
You must be there, one beautiful as you!   
But never, not by name. No planes are flying   
Your name in lacy trailers past the blue   
Marquees of heaven. No trumpets cry your fame.   

Strange!—how no constellations spell your name!

  • John Frederick Nims, “Strange!” from The Powers of Heaven and Earth: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Bonnie Larkin Nims, Frank McReynolds Nims, Sarah Hoyt Nims Martin, and Emily Anne Nims. Used by permission of Louisiana State University Press.

  • Source: The Powers of Heaven and Earth: New and Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 2002)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I was surprised how attached I got to my poems. I've had "Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg" memorized since my sophomore year, and whenever I get nervous or anxious about something I recite it to myself."
Sarah Calvin-Stupfel
2018 OR POL Champ