How can I be cool like a poet? — A. H.


You’ve got to be kidding me. Most poets I know would not be classified as cool (except maybe Kim Addonizio — she’s pretty chic). But, you asked, so let’s see what we can discover from Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool”:

We real cool. We Left school. We

Lurk late. We Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We Die soon.

If you want to be cool like a poet, do the opposite of what the plural speaker does in this poem. First and foremost, stay in school. In fact, stay in school as long as you can. Take out student loans that you will be paying off for the rest of your life to do so. Second, get the recommended seven to eight… More…

Or, to be more correct, I rediscovered it. Between the ages of five and 12, candy was all I thought about. I couldn’t walk into a drugstore or a supermarket without being attacked by longing. The game Candy Land had a visceral attraction for me: just looking at the board would make me dizzy with desire. I was enamored of the word “gumdrop.” It had an enticing ring that helped me, later, understand the idea of Platonic forms: No actual gumdrop ever approximated the sublime delight the word evoked.

Despite such intense associations, candy reigned for less than a decade in my life. Fearful of acne and obesity, I trained myself to wait for dessert, that more mannered way of delivering sugar by being confined to the end of a meal. Learning to like the attenuated sweetness of dessert was the brand of civilization and propriety, a tarte tatin being… More…

On a warm spring evening in 1922, M. Sturtz — a burglary insurance broker who lived on Manhattan’s Upper West Side — left her apartment for a few minutes to run an errand. While she was gone, a pair of thieves gained entry through a dumbwaiter, locked the doors and windows from the inside, and proceeded to make off with everything of value in the place, including the contents of a toy safe belonging to Mrs. Sturtz’ 8-year-old daughter Josephine. In their wake, the thieves left a hand-written business card on a table in the center of the apartment. “Expert crooks,” it read across the center. “Services at reasonable rates,” it advised in the upper left hand corner. “Specialties: Pocketpicking, flim-flamming, second story work, black-jacking and robbing babies’ banks a specialty,” it concluded in a lower corner.


The… More…