Excerpt from

April Inventory

The green catalpa tree has turned
All white; the cherry blooms once more.
In one whole year I haven't learned
A blessed thing they pay you for.
The blossoms snow down in my hair;
The trees and I will soon be bare.

The trees have more than I to spare.
The sleek, expensive girls I teach,
Younger and pinker every year,
Bloom gradually out of reach.
The pear tree lets its petals drop
Like dandruff on a tabletop.

W. D. Snodgrass at Academy of American Poets

Ernest Hilbert interviews W. D. Snodgrass

EH: Do you have any advice for young poets today?

WDS: If you can be happy doing anything else, do it. George P. Elliott once told me that. This is what he always told people. Everything pays better. Everything is more honestly rewarded. But if you've got to do it, then you're a life-termer. I've had a lot to do with pacifist organizations. In one of their publications there is a story about a young pacifist who is thrown in prison. He is in on the main floor with all the new guys, and he's cracking up. Some of the prisoners go to the warden and ask him to do something. They put the new guy up on the top floor with the life-termers, because they had nothing to win. They didn't have to put anybody down. They were just there. And that's how it was going to be, and they had to get along. In a few days he settled back down again and he was all right.

"April Inventory"

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