Winter 2008 • Vol. XXX No. 1 Poetry |

Success

I can feel the thick yellow fat of applause building up in my arteries, friends, yet I go on, a fool for adoration. Do I care that when it sloughs off it is likely to go straight to the brain? I am already showing the first signs of poetic aphasia, the words coming hard, the synapses of metaphor no longer connecting. But look at me, down on my knees next to the podium, lapping the last drops, then rolling in the stain like a dog, getting the smell in my good tweed sport coat, the grease on my suede elbow patches, and for what? Well, for the women I walk past the next morning, the ones in the terminal, wheeling their luggage, looking so beautifully earnest. All for the hope that they will suddenly dilate their nostrils, squeeze the hard carry-on handles, and rise to the ripening odor of praise with which I have basted myself, stinking to heaven.

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Ted Kooser served two terms as poet laureate consultant to the Library of Congress, and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for his book of poems, Delights & Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004.) He is a retired life insurance executive who lives in the country near the village of Garland, Nebraska.

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In November

By Ted Kooser

I can feel the thick yellow fat of applause building up in my arteries, friends, yet I go on, a fool for adoration. Do I care that when it sloughs […]

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