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Phyllis Gotlieb (1926-)

A Catful of Buttermilk


it 's a bird, it 's a plane, it 's a
pain in the neck, it 's a thorn
in the flesh, it 's
A CATFUL OF BUTTERMILK

              1nothing, a family saying, like for
              2enough is enough, enough already! yoysher!
              3a bellyful, something turning queasy, storm
              4brewing, gorge rising, that 's when
              5you say enough is a
              6catful of buttermilk

              7when you 've got a spirit
              8ache like an ague
              9of the bones, when the sky
            10pushes down like the
            11lid of a garbage-can and all
            12words ring down a fall of
            13lead nickels, the old
            14gnaw their gums and blink and the
            15wind is a wolves' bite in the thigh

            16the hue and cry out at the graves
            17of the unnumbered
            18dead riding in their careers
            19in turn howling a hollow
            20tolling from hell
            21                             can we
            22crawl down to the cat from here
            23and the buttermilk?

            24Prince, President, Prime
            25minister, Premier, Potentate,
            26Pontifex, Pasha, Panjandrum & Pooh-bah, ah
            27the hell with it, it 's a
            28catful of buttermilk


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Copyright The Works: Collected Poems of Phyllis Gotlieb Calliope Press 1978
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Phyllis Gotlieb, The Works: Collected Poems (Toronto: Calliope Press, 1978): 73-74.
First publication date: 1969
Publication date note: Ordinary, Moving (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1969).
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2002
Recent editing: 1:2002/11/3

Rhyme: unrhyming


Other poems by Phyllis Gotlieb