Forget the sappy title--James Tate’s poems are accessible yet deep, eccentric, and sometimes bizarre. His gifts include a fluid poetic style and the ability to continuously surprise. Here’s how “It Happens like This” begins:
“I was outside St. Cecilia’s Rectory / smoking a cigarette when a goat appeared beside me….” The poem’s speaker admires the goat, wonders if there’s a leash law for them, and then when he walks away the goat follows him. “People / smiled at me and admired the goat. “It’s not my goat,” / I explained. “It’s the town’s goat. I’m just taking / my turn caring for it.” “I didn’t know we had a goat,” / one of them said, “I wonder when my turn is…” Whether you’re a goat-lover or not, you will enjoy the odd realism here, the tongue-in-cheek humor.
In fact humor is another one of Tate’s paramount qualities. Check out some of his other poetic titles in The Eternal Ones of the Dream: “Uneasy about the Sounds of Some Night-Wandering Animal,” “Doink,” “The Flying Petunias,” Read more »