David Kirby


The planner with all your dates in it, your ring, even something
of no importance at all: your favorite pen, say, though you can
buy a dozen at the corner drug store, or the list of things you
want to do today, even though you remember writing nothing
more than “call George” and “buy coffee.” You didn’t need
to do that: you’ll know to buy coffee when you run out.
And which George? You know three Georges. If you can’t
remember which one to call, maybe you don’t need to call
any of them. What do you need? If you were a doomsday prepper,
it would make sense to have beer and wine. It would make
more sense to have a book that told you how to make beer
and wine, and, by the same token, if not guns, at least friends
with guns. Penicillin, bleach, solar panels: you’d need all that,
and an acoustical instrument so you could while away the hours.
Paranoia, self-righteousness. . . . Oh, and a copy of Ulysses
you’ll be able to get through it this time. Comic books,
board games, chewing tobacco, a fishing line and hooks,
duct tape, aluminum foil, Vaseline: all that less one thing,
the one you want to lose. There’s something you’ll regret
bringing with you into your cave, that should have stayed
outside on the treeless earth with its ceaseless winds
and that light that never changes. What is it?

David Kirby’s collection The House on Boulevard Street: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2007. Kirby is the author of Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which the Times Literary Supplement of London called “a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense.” Kirby’s honors include fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His latest poetry collection is Get Up, Please.