Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Bagel

The Bagel
David Ignatow (American Poet)

I stopped to pick up the bagel 
rolling away in the wind, 
annoyed with myself 
for having dropped it 
as if it were a portent. 
Faster and faster it rolled, 
with me running after it 
bent low, gritting my teeth, 
and I found myself doubled over 
and rolling down the street 
head over heels, one complete somersault 
after another like a bagel 
and strangely happy with myself.

David Ignatow, (born Feb. 7, 1914, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.—died Nov. 17, 1997, East Hampton, N.Y.) was an  American poet whose works address social as well as personal issues in meditative, vernacular free verse. Ignatow worked for a time as a journalist with the WPA Federal Writers’ Project. His first book of poetry, entitled Poems (1948), was followed by The Gentle Weight Lifter (1955). Many of the pieces in the latter collection, as well as many in Say Pardon (1961) and Figures of the Human (1964), are written in the form of parables. From the 1960s Ignatow taught poetry at several American colleges. For over half a century, David Ignatow crafted spare, plain, haunting poetry pf working life, urban images, and dark humor. The poetic heir of Whitman and William Carlos Williams, Ignatow is characteristically concerned with human mortality and human alienation in the world: the world as it is, defined by suffering and despair, yet at crucial times redeemed by cosmic vision and shared lives.
Very often in your life, you are  so stiff and stressed out that you forget the essential that you were once a child. When was the last time you did something unabashedly silly? When did you run down the street, skipping, or scream on a roller coaster, climbed a tree and jumped down with puerile joy, or trip and fall in a public place? Most of the time we're buttoned up, trying to do everything we can to remain poised, but this poem removes us from all the formality a bit and reminds us of those rare moments when you realize you're in the midst of a potentially embarrassing moment but choose to laugh instead of burrow away. “And strangely happily with myself” is the way Ignatow ends the poem to change the meaning of the whole poem. Unwind and have fun with yourself.