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Iron Lung, and Human Resources

From: New England Review
Volume 33, Number 4, 2013
pp. 82-84 | 10.1353/ner.2013.0015

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Iron Lung

for John Guilday

Small with all I didn’t know,
I knew enough to tremble:

I shrank by the door, cowed
by what sounded

like an ocean’s angry roar,
stumped by the silver cylinder’s

thump and wheeze, and him
floating like a sailor,

flat-backed on the deck, rolling
with each trough and swell,

or Jonah, cast out in the storm,
by some miracle cradled

in the belly of a whale,
its great breathing bulk, its blast

and gasp like a bellow,
working air into the heaving null.

What did I know of the jaws
of heaven? A few verses

rehearsed for Confirmation—
enough to wonder if this

was what passed for mercy: to sleep
in the monster’s bowels

until it foundered on the beach—
or was he not, by providence, snatched

from the squall, no Jonah at all,
but some lonely Noah, abob

on his ark, waiting for God
to clear his throat,

while below, the sculling whales
rang the hull with their muffled songs?

Human Resources

The polished tabletop sprawls like a pond.
Voices in the hall never rise above a hum.
Through the slatted blinds, box stores line up
like a boy’s wooden blocks.
The meeting has been called, so I’ve come.

Cars flicker by like sunfish through the slats.
Out the store’s sliding doors comes
a boy with a balloon. There are boxes
to check, lines to be signed.
They’ll give me a few minutes alone.

Let ventilation ducts administer the air.
Let buzzing bulbs serve notice to the sun.
Mirrored on the pond, the balloon
climbs the blinds’ ladder of sky.
Unless there are questions, we’re done.

Ted Genoways  

Ted Genoways is the author of two books of poems and the critical study Walt Whitman and the Civil War (University of California Press, 2009). His new book about Hormel Foods and the Great American Recession is forthcoming from HarperCollins. He has recently published essays and poems in the Atlantic, Harper’s, Kenyon Review, Mother Jones, OnEarth, Outside, and Best American Travel Writing 2010. This fall he will be a visiting reporter at the Middlebury College Program in Environmental Journalism.

Copyright © 2013 Middlebury College Publications
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Ted Genoways. "Iron Lung, and Human Resources." New England Review 33.4 (2013): 82-84. Project MUSE. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Genoways, T.(2013). Iron Lung, and Human Resources. New England Review 33(4), 82-84. Middlebury College. Retrieved April 15, 2013, from Project MUSE database.
Ted Genoways. "Iron Lung, and Human Resources." New England Review 33, no. 4 (2013): 82-84. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed April 15, 2013).
T1 - Iron Lung, and Human Resources
A1 - Ted Genoways
JF - New England Review
VL - 33
IS - 4
SP - 82
EP - 84
PY - 2013
PB - Middlebury College
SN - 2161-9131
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/new_england_review/v033/33.4.genoways.html
N1 - Volume 33, Number 4, 2013
ER -


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