Poem a Day – 09-12-2014

Poem a Day: New and classic poems provided by the Academy of American Poets


Simon Armitage

In later life I retired from poetry,
ploughed the profits
into a family restaurant
in the town of Holzminden, in lower Saxony.

It was small and traditional:
dark wood panelling, deer antlers,
linen tablecloths and red candles,
one beer tap on the bar

and a dish of the day, usually
Bauernschnitzel. Weekends were busy,
pensioners wanting the set meal, though
year on year takings were falling.

Some nights the old gang came in –
Jackie, Max, Lavinia,
Mike not looking at all himself,
and I’d close the kitchen,

hang up my striped apron,
take a bottle of peach schnapps
from the top shelf and say,
“Mind if I join you?”

“Are we dead yet?” someone would ask.
Then with a plastic toothpick
I’d draw blood from my little finger
to prove we were still among the living.

From the veranda we’d breathe new scents
from the perfume distillery over the river,
or watch the skyline
for the nuclear twilight.

About this poem: “I intended ‘Dammerung’ [to be] an ironic meditation on the financial rewards of poetry and a tragicomic lament on the passing of time and the changes in literary taste. The other poets mentioned are my poetic cohorts from the U.K. I wrote the piece in situ, as it were, while making a television documentary about World War I in Germany.” – Simon Armitage

About Simon Armitage: Simon Armitage is the author of “Paper Aeroplane: Selected Poems 1989-2014” (Faber and Faber, 2014). He is a professor of poetry at the University of Sheffield, U.K., and lives in Yorkshire, England.

The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day@poets.org.

(c) 2014 Simon Armitage.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate


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