The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday

Cheap Seats, the Cincinnati Gardens, Professional Basketball, 1959
By William Matthews

The less we paid, the more we climbed. Tendrils
of smoke lazed just as high and hung there, blue,
particulate, the opposite of dew.
We saw the whole court from up there. Few girls
had come, few wives, numerous boys in molt
like me. Our heroes leapt and surged and looped
and two nights out of three, like us, they'd lose.
But "like us" is wrong: we had no result
three nights out of three: so we had heroes.
And "we" is wrong, for I knew none by name
among that hazy company unless
I brought her with me. This was loneliness
with noise, unlike the kind I had at home
with no clock running down, and mirrors.


Another from Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World about Matthews, who recovered from a brain tumor only to die of heart failure at 55. "Silence and loneliness often plague Matthews's characters," writes Mary Karr. "In 'Cheap Seats, the Cincinnati Gardens, Professional Basketball, 1959,' a young man in a stadium's nosebleed seats is not -- as we first think -- engaged in festive male-bonding. He's hiding from a bad marriage. The poem's mutating half rhymes follow a barely noticeable Petrarchan sonnet form: 'We saw the whole court from up there./Few girls/had come, few wives, numerous boys in molt/like me.' By 'in molt' he means old enough to be losing hair. The volta, or turn in the poem, comes before the last six lines, when fast-spun reversals wind down into agonized introspection...the tagline plants a dagger as the speaker indicts himself for his own absence." The poem is from Time & Money, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

It continued to be insanely hot and humid, so we reluctantly scrapped plans to go to the Maryland Faerie Festival -- Daniel had studying for finals, Adam wanted to go to the pool, and Paul and I didn't think we could tolerate another day out in the heat, particularly since I required Imitrex to recover from the zoo heat. So I persuaded dementordelta to come over for pancakes, veggie sausage and the National Aquarium in DC, which is in the Department of Commerce building. It's much smaller than the National Aquarium in Baltimore and is focused on marine life in American waterways and surrounding oceans, so there are a few small sharks and alligators, but mostly smaller animals in exhibits based on National Marine Sanctuary ecosystems.

A French angelfish, Pomacanthus paru, common in shallow reefs like the ones in Florida's National Marine Sanctuaries.

A pufferfish in one of the tanks representing a National Marine Sanctuary in Puerto Rico.

The doctorfish also lives in shallow reefs and rocky habitats. It grazes on algae.

A giant green anemone gets its color from green algae living in its tissues. They can live anywhere from Alaska to Panama.

A tiger shark egg. You can see the fetal shark inside; it was wriggling a great deal.

A Florida alligator and (I think) an Eastern slider turtle in an exhibit reflecting the Everglades ecosystem. There were two little alligators snapping at each other.

An endangered loggerhead sea turtle that lives off the East Coast of the U.S. and Texas. They can live for more than a hundred years if not threatened by fishermen and environmental hazards.

Afterward, Paul took the kids to the pool, and dementordelta and I went to get strawberries, blackberries and Cool Whip and watched the first episode of Torchwood. After she went home, we went to drop off one of the vehicles which has broken air conditioning -- and believe me, in this weather, that is an intolerable situation. Then we watched HBO's Recount, which was terrific; I can't say it was enjoyable, as the Bush-Gore election ended with the exact same criminal miscarriage of democracy as I remember, but the acting's great, particularly Laura Dern's Katherine Harris, and it wasn't any more oversimplified than All the President's Men.

Hope everyone who celebrates is having a joyous Shavuot, which in addition to its connection to the Torah is a seasonal harvest holiday and as such appeals to my Earth-based Jewitchery. Oh, and there's an enjoyable article in The Washington Post Magazine about the guy who runs Reptile Wonders, who brought the snakes, tortoises and lizards we saw at Rockville Science Day earlier this year -- a home-based business that went from weekend parties to a $65,000 a year business.

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