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One of the ways a poet makes art from his or her experience is through the use of unique, specific and particular detail. This poem by Rick Snyder thrives on such details. It's not just baseball caps, it's Tasmanian Devil caps; it's not just music on the intercom, it's James Taylor. And Snyder's poem also caught my interest with the humor of its flat, sardonic tone.

How Are You Doing?

As much as you deserve it,

I wouldn't wish this

Sunday night on you —

not the Osco at closing,

not its two tired women

and shaky security guard,

not its bin of flip-flops

and Tasmanian Devil

baseball caps,

not its freshly mopped floors

and fluorescent lights,

not its endless James Taylor

song on the intercom,

and not its last pint of

chocolate mint ice cream,

which I carried

down Milwaukee Ave.

past a man in an unbuttoned

baseball shirt, who stepped

out of a shadow to whisper,

How are you doing?


Reprinted from Barrow Street, Winter, 2005, by permission of the author. Copyright 2005 by Rick Snyder. This weekly column is supported by the Poetry Foundation, the Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

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