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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Survival Is a Style

Poems

Christian Wiman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK

SURVIVAL IS A STYLE


There are no knives

on the man so thin the wind

whips his cargo pants around him like a dance

to which his bones aspire,

no flares, no smoke, no unmetaphorical fire

when the woman in the camouflage jog bra

jogs by whistling all the while.

Survival is a style.


TO EAT THE AWFUL WHILE YOU STARVE YOUR AWE


To eat the awful while you starve your awe,

to weasel misery like a suck of egg,

to be ebullience’s prick and leak,

a character pinched to characteristic,

hell-relisher, persimmon-sipper, sad Tom, sane Tom,

all day licking the cicatrix where your Tomhood lay.


DRIVE, 1982


There is no new thing under the sun

but the ever-reviving lives our losses foster,

like the white-bloused girl wading cotton north of Dunn

who looked up the moment that I lost her.


SUMMER RIVER ROSIE DAM


The old bitch Rosie ambles up the drive.

The taut knobs of her teats nearly touch the dust.

Somewhere something needs her.

Chunk-necked, long-bodied, lug-legged, smudge-colored.

She abhors brooms but otherwise endures

insults, indifference, novice efforts to leash or clean.

A kind of commanding obedience about her:

as long as it takes you to see, she waits.

Then, with a sort of conspiratorial shiver and eons in her eyes,

lugs her nubs up the porch steps and sighs loudly down

as if she’s been deflated.

A ghost of must and an orbit of fleas,

one toothed ear and two bonus toes.

Nothing culminates in her.

She is the opposite of frolic.

Her sleep is an extinction.

However, should an afternoon prove overlong, heat

smite, one’s pleasures pall,

should one let slip the one word she knows

(Rosie is a rune to her, one more blurt from the blurters)

she’s up! all frisk and ripple, sniffing existence anew,


Copyright © 2020 by Christian Wiman