Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Do the Dead Know What Time It Is?"

Do the Dead Know what Time It Is?

The old guy put down his beer.
Son, he said,
          (and a girl came over to the table where we were:
          asked us by Jack Christ to buy her a drink.)
Son, I am going to tell you something
The like of which nobody was ever told.
          (and the girl said, I've got nothing on tonight;
          how about you and me going to your place?)
I am going to tell you the story of my mother's
Meeting with God.
          (and I whispered to the girl: I don't have a room,
          but maybe...)
She walked up to where the top of the world is
And He came right up to her and said
So at last you've come home.
          (but maybe what?
          I thought I'd like to stay here and talk to you.)
My mother started to cry and God
Put His arms around her.
          (about what?
          Oh, just talk...we'll find something.)
She said it was like a fog coming over her face
And light was everywhere and a soft voice saying
You can stop crying now.
          (what can we talk about that will take all night?
          and I said that I didn't know.)
You can stop crying now.

Kenneth Patchen (1939) 

This was posted on Robert Frost's Banjo within the first couple of week's of the blog's existence in the summer of '08.  Since only a few friends read Robert Frost's Banjo back then, it won't be redundant for most.  It is one of my favorite poems by one of my very favorite poets.  Hope you all are having a nice day!


  1. what can we talk about that will take all night?/ and I said that I didn't know.

    Heartbreaking. It could also go well with some mournful guitar music.

  2. Hi HKatz: All in all, I would say this is one truly heart-rending poem. I love it very much. Guitar music? An interesting thought!


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