Poem of the Week, by David Kirby


Never done before, mosaic detail

There’s a video somewhere in my house, laboriously taken on a huge VHS camcorder and then laboriously transferred years later to a cd, of a Rope Power competition at my children’s elementary school. Rope Power is a compilation of incredible feats of jump ropery –synchronized jump roping, trick jump roping, speed jump roping– practiced for weeks and months on end.  At the completion of Rope Power there’s a performance that all can attend. Loud music. Team t-shirts. Scads of children wildly jumping to the gasps and applause of the audience. Toward the end of my home video the gym clears for a special performance by an ace jump roper, who enters with one leg wrapped around his neck, jump-roping on the other. At one point he may do a sort of flip-thing while still jumping. It’s not clear, because at that point in the video the camera suddenly jostles and you can hear me yell (having just realized it), “Holy shit! That’s my son!” There are many reasons why I love this poem, and the line But I also wanted to learn that trick where you grab your left ankle in your right hand and then jump through with your other leg is one of them.


Taking It Home to Jerome
     – David Kirby

In Baton Rouge, there was a DJ on the soul station who was
always urging his listeners to “take it on home to Jerome.”

No one knew who Jerome was. And nobody cared. So it
didn’t matter. I was, what, ten, twelve? I didn’t have anything

to take home to anyone. Parents and teachers told us that all
we needed to do in this world were three things: be happy,

do good, and find work that fulfills you. But I also wanted
to learn that trick where you grab your left ankle in your

right hand and then jump through with your other leg.
Everything else was to come, everything about love:

the sadness of it, knowing it can’t last, that all lives must end,
all hearts are broken. Sometimes when I’m writing a poem,

I feel as though I’m operating that crusher that turns
a full-size car into a metal cube the size of a suitcase.

At other times, I’m just a secretary: the world has so much
to say, and I’m writing it down. This great tenderness.


For more information about David Kirby, please click here.

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