Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 1 October 2007

  • The Last Time I Saw Paris

    Will I never see Paris again? It may well be.
    Or Salina Cruz? Almost certainly.
    But London: surely I’ll live that long.
    And Ischia, Naples, Capri - I must see them again,
            Although I don’t know when.
            Not tomorrow, but soon.

    And which are the dishes I have unwittingly
    Tasted a final time? Stewed tripe? I can live
    With that. Various fruits peculiar to Brazil.
    But not, I beg of fate, Aunt Cece’s lemon pudding.
            For I mean to make some more.
            Not tomorrow, but soon.

    And which are the friends I’ll see no more,
    Whether by their demise or mine,
    Or merely through the slow attrition
    Of concern: what are their names?
            If I knew, I’d phone.
            Not tomorrow, but soon.

    by Tom Disch
    from About the Size of It
    Anvil, 2007
    Copyright © Tom Disch 2007

    Tom Disch is an Iowa-born New Yorker, best known for his science fiction under the name of Thomas M. Disch - most famously Camp Concentration (1968). But he has always written poetry, and in a great variety of modes. He stands apart from the mainstream schools of American poetry; although sometimes linked to the New Formalists or even, and by contrast, to the New York school, his style is too idiosyncratic and various to be easily categorized.

    This poem marries the form of a traditional lyric with more than a hint of light verse. The seriousness of the content is played against the lightness of the surface, a typical Disch strategy. Or is it the lightness of the content and the seriousness of the surface? Tom Disch has also written novels, short stories, opera libretti, plays, poetry criticism and children's books. About the Size of It gathers poems from 20 years.

    Anvil Press Poetry was founded in 1968 and publishes English-language poetry and poetry in translation, both classic and modern.