“Lucky Talk” by Jeff Worley

Jeff Worley


“I think poems are pieces of talk, savored and sustained.
I would call them ‘lucky talk.’”
—William Stafford,
“A Witness for Poetry”

Yesterday at Kroger, I heard a boy, maybe 7,
say to his father: We have two eyes and two arms
and two legs. Why don’t we have two penises?
I love language most when it slips up on us like this.

Which is why, of course, poets sneak up their ears
in cafes and bars. I’ve never done that
with anybody, and I’m certainly not going to
do it with you, I heard, unmoored from its context,

as I pretended to study Pazzo’s menu.
And later that same lucky day: Jonathan’s
not a bad person really; he’s just insufferable.
My wife, always the dutiful daughter, brought

her mother a bright Sunday bouquet.
These flowers are so beautiful, she said,
they look artificial. And my favorite,
from Luis Polonia on ESPN after being traded

from New York: The Yankees are interested
in only one thing, and I don’t know what that is.

from Rattle #32, Winter 2009


Jeff Worley: “My fellow Kansan Bill Stafford was one of my earliest influences as I began to try to make my way as a poet, and after I met him at the University of Cincinnati in 1984, we corresponded fairly regularly. I think Bill would like this little poem, and I’m happy to have him ‘introduce’ it in an epigraph.”

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