Transcript: Poems on Air, Episode 85 - Ron Koertge

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[Music intro]

LYNNE THOMPSON: Hello! My name is Lynne Thompson, Poet Laureate for the City of Los Angeles, and I’m so happy to welcome listeners to this installment of Poems on Air, a podcast supported by the Los Angeles Public Library. Every week, I’ll present the work of poets I admire, poets who you should know, and poets who have made a substantial and inimitable contribution to the art and craft of poetry.

LYNNE THOMPSON: Last week, I referred to a book launch and reading I attended that was hosted by Red Hen Press. One of those readers was Ron Koertge, the Poet Laureate of the City of South Pasadena. A prolific writer, Koertge is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment For the Arts and the California Arts Council and the winner of a Pushcart Prize whose poems have appeared in two editions of Best American Poetry. Koertge is the author of more than twenty books of poetry.

LYNNE THOMPSON: Today’s poem is "The Afterlife" by Ron Koertge.

"The Afterlife"

I was maybe eight when I found a thesaurus and yes,
it does sound like a prehistoric animal or a hero in a Greek
myth—Hector and Thesaurus locked in mortal combat.

I was only a child and liked the family aspect
of a thesaurus—book related to volume related to tome
related to opus. Tome being the fat uncle,
opus the windbag cousin.

My people went to a small church outside of town.
The congregation was middle-aged and beyond,
so the pastor talked a lot about paradise. No aches

and pains, nobody dying in the back bedroom, no bills
in the mail, no mail. Just golden mirrors reflecting
perfect bodies.

Through open windows in the summer I watched Holsteins,
those black and white cows that looked distantly related
to zebras, the way hope is distantly related to faith.

LYNNE THOMPSON: The Los Angeles Poet Laureate was created as a joint program between the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles Public Library and this podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening!

[Music outro]

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  • DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a certified or verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting, subject to the inherent limitations of real-time captioning. The primary focus of real-time captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable, acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding. Transcript provided by the author.