In Honor of National Poetry Month This Year…

…this time I’m NOT hosting a contest!  I know, I know, SHOCK.

Instead, I want to share other people’s poems with you.

We’re kicking this month off with another poem by Fady Joudah, whose collection Textu I reviewed on this blog not too long ago.  This is “American Gas Station” from his book The Earth in the Attic (published in 2008 by Yale University Press as the winner of that year’s Yale Series of Younger Poets).

Happy National Poetry Month!  And if you’re out there writing a poem, I would love to know about it.


American Gas Station


I never knew Bob.
He was older than some countries
Or a staleness between the teeth and lips,

Nothing the tongue can’t sweep away
With few strokes in the middle of mountains
Which are creatures of god.

I had already seen the black-magic-
Marker sign taped to the glass door
Of his gas station,

In the god-damned Sierra,
Where I was grand and American,
Chrysler red and rented, running on empty:

Bob died last night.
And the pumps were locked,
The moon a cataract,

And the man inside, head in one hand,
Waved me away with the other.
I never knew Bob —

But I imagine him bald,
Scalp showing through the mesh of his hat.
I was on vacation,

Tired of killing
Patients and saving them,
And the thought that I might walk for miles

Up mountain roads near dark
Angered me. I admit
What  wanted:

A Coke and a bag of chips.
The key to the toilet after traveling for hours.
I wanted to fall to my knees for oil.

And I admit I have, too many times,
Run on pressurized fumes that pop
Like soda when I finally reach a station.

And because of it,
I was once late for an anatomy test.
And because of it I now

Reset the odometer
Each time I fill my tank,
I measure emptiness.


15 thoughts on “In Honor of National Poetry Month This Year…

  1. Andrew

    And Happy National Poetry Month to you! Nice pick with Fady, too by the way. And I’m not a big poetry writer. I used to do some haiku now and again. But I don’t know if what I wrote would count.


    1. Thanks! 🙂 You should consider Book Spine Poetry or a magnetic poetry kit if you’re interested in a more low-pressure poetry writing situation. Those are fun, and both are likely to be featured here at some point this month.


      1. Andrew

        I’ve always been kind of scared of poetry. I really dug Bukowski’s stuff. But otherwise I’m pretty ignorant.


      2. I think a lot of people feel that way, actually. Poet Edward Hirsch was once conducting a seminar with my students, quite a few years ago, and he told them that when he started, he didn’t know what he was doing — but it wasn’t poetry. He just had a desire to write and did a lot of it. Then he just started reading lots and lots of poets and had a teacher who was willing to nurture him, and he kept at it. He eventually became one of America’s greatest contemporary poets. His work is amazing.

        I’m not saying everyone should attempt that journey; he had something in him, clearly, which led him to be a poet. But I do think the more good poets a person reads, the more that reader begins to understand poetry, even on a subconscious level.

        It’s a beautiful thing. 🙂


      3. Andrew

        Do you have some recommendations? I loved Bukowski, but I definitely struggle with not liking a lot of what I’ve heard/read. Some I think it was forced on me through school, at a time in my life I wasn’t ready or willing to understand. But also I used to go to open mics back in the day, and slam poetry made me cringe. Sad or heartfelt can be fine. I guess it’s just such a close line from cheesy to meaningful. I’d love to check out some stuff though.


      4. I can definitely make some recommendations! First, follow the poems posted on this blog. 😉 Second, I’ll get back to you with names as soon as I finish writing report cards, due this week and under which I’m buried. I’d love to make some suggestions for you.


      5. Andrew

        Awesome! Yeah, I’ll definitely go over older entries. And yeah don’t kill yourself. I know you got a full plate.


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