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The Noble Gases

for Max Garland

No wonder I can never remember all eight—
there are only six. I have a placemat
with the periodic table of the elements on it—
I guess it’s time to get it out again.
The ones I never forget are neon
and radon—bar signs and killers in the basement.
I usually remember Superman’s Achille’s heel,
thus krypton, and if I think of Jason, I might
think of Argonauts and thus argon, but
usually I don’t. Almost never will
I think of helium, the most famous one,
the silly voice, the birthday balloon,
the one that can overfill your lungs
and kill you, leeching all your oxygen.

____
Working on part 2 and 3 of this poem–will post more soon.

What a pleasure it was to hear Max Garland read at the Aldo Leopold Center on an absolutely perfect Wisconsin summer night. I always enjoy his poems and he spoke so earnestly and well about the importance of art, of making it and supporting it, I found I had tears in my eyes a bunch of times.

Here’s a photo I took as I resisted the mingling part of the evening–I couldn’t bear to be inside on such a gorgeous night.

The Aldo Leopold Center outside Baraboo.

The Aldo Leopold Center outside Baraboo.

This poem came in response to his poem “Hydrogen,” which is available through the Western Kentucky University English Department website.

_____

I have fond memories of WKU, where I once participated in a marathon poetry reading. We read forever there. We might still be reading there.

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One response to “The Noble Gases

  1. Pingback: The Noble Gases (continued) | marniere

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