Poetry March 2005

Male Voices, From Below

Three men repainting the kitchen under my study
never weary of talking, that plaintive baritone
of sports commentary: who should
have been traded for whom, and who
isn't worth a dime of his salary. Oh,
the monotony, not sublime, of the male—
the ceaseless thrust, the voiced aggression
toward a world of imagined malfeasance!

Couldn't the species manage without these clowns?
With an ovary-activating device,
say, installed in beauty parlors?
A trio of women would babble beneath me
like shivering leaves, like sighing wavelets;
I wouldn't understand a blessed word.

John Updike has written seven collections of poetry, numerous books of short fiction and criticism, and twenty-one novels, of which the most recent, Villages, was published last fall.
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