A motorist once said to me,
and this was in the country,
on a county lane, a motorist
slowed his vehicle as I was
walking my dear old collie,
Sithney, by the side of the road,
and the motorist came to a halt
mildly alarming both Sithney and myself,
not yet accustomed to automobiles,
and this particular motorist
sent a little spasm of fright up our spines,
which in turn panicked the driver a bit
and it seemed as if we were off to a bad start,
and that’s when Sithney began to bark
and the man could not be heard, that is,
if he was speaking or trying to speak
because I was commanding Sithnewy to be silent,
though, indeed I was sympathetic
to his emotional excitement.
It was, as I recall, a day of prodigious beauty.
April 21, 1932–clouds
like the inside of your head explained.
Bluebirds, too numerous to mention.
The clover calling you by name.
And fields oozing green.
And this motorist from nowhere
moving his lips
like the wings of a butterfly
and nothing coming out,
and Sithney silent now.
He was no longer looking at us,
but straight ahead
where his election was in doubt.
“That’s a fine dog,” he said.
“Collies are made in heaven.”
Well, if I were a voting man I’d vote for you, I said.
“A bedoozling day to be lost in the country, I say.
Leastways, I am a misplaced individual.”
We introduced ourselves
and swapped a few stories.
He was a veteran and a salesmen
who didn’t believe in his product–
I’ve forgotten what it was–hair restorer,
parrot feed–and he enjoyed nothing more
then a a day spent meandering the back roads
in his jalopy. I gave him directions
to the Denton farm, but I doubt
that he followed them, he didn’t
seem to be listening, and it was getting late
and Sithney had an idea of his own
and I don’t know why I am remembering this now,
just that he summed himself up by saying
“I’ve missed too many boats”
and all these years later
I keep thinking that was a man
who loved to miss boats,
but he didn’t miss them that much.

Analysis, meaning and summary of James Tate's poem Days of Pie and Coffee

1 Comment

  1. Timothy Robert Torkildson says:

    after reading this I had to write the follwoing:
    Another theory has it we are all bird droppings,

    cast off by the legendary Roc

    from the Arabian Nights,

    which have come to life —

    only the white part of the dropping

    early on cheated the black part

    of the dropping,

    enslaving them forever.

    So you’ve got to figure out if

    you’re the pale part or the

    dark part, and then act


    But that’s just so much pigeon wax,

    according to the Marmalade Research Institute;

    they insist that a cabal of displaced distillers

    of rose water got together in the fourteenth

    century to create the illusion of wealth

    and breed a deep seated suspicion

    of frivolity.

    They succeeded so well that today

    we are wealthier than anyone was

    back in the fourteenth century,

    and enjoy a better understanding

    of frivolity.

    We vote it into and out of office

    on a regular basis.

    But of course the Marmalade Institute

    is riddled with crypto-arrivistes;

    their secret agenda is to provide

    wheat germ for the masses.

    Me, I believe that all men are unbalanced

    on an equal basis —

    but that some are probably more

    balanced than others.

    Like my ex brother-in-law who bought

    us a chicken farm without

    warning us about the feather lice.

    He was loaded with that illusionary wealth.

    And died just last week

    because he didn’t believe in wearing a mask.

    He called it a conspiracy.

    I call it karma.

    . . . And the Roc just keeps

    pooping away.

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