“Alone” by Jack Gilbert

I never thought Michiko would come back
after she died. But if she did, I knew
it would be as a lady in a long white dress.
It is strange that she has returned
as somebody’s dalmation. I meet
the man walking her on a leash
almost every week. He says good morning
and I stoop down to calm her. He said
once that she was never like that with
other people. Sometimes she is tethered
on their lawn when I go by. If nobody
is around, I sit on the grass. When she
finally quiets, she puts her head in my lap
and we watch each other’s eyes as I whisper
in her soft ears. She cares nothing about
the mystery. She likes it best when
I touch her head and tell her small
things about my days and our friends.
That makes her happy the way it always did.


Jack Gilbert, “Alone” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2012 by Jack Gilbert.


Mr. Gilbert reads “Alone” and other poems in the below video. “Alone” begins at timestamp 14:10.

From the video’s description:

Jack Gilbert reads and introduces eight poems from his collections MONOLITHOS (1982) and THE GREAT FIRES (1994). This is an extract from a longer reading he gave for the Lannan Foundation in Los Angeles on 11 November 1995 when he was also interviewed by Jody AllenRandolph. That interview is posted as a separate video at http://youtu.be/UEcre9T5Gts

The poems are all included in TRANSGRESSIONS: SELECTED POEMS (Bloodaxe Books, UK, 2006) and COLLECTED POEMS (Knopf, 2012). The poems are (with page numbers from TRANSGRESSIONS): ‘Pewter’ (35), ‘Finding Something’ (65), ‘Going Wrong’ (57), ‘A Description of Happiness in København’ (49), ‘Searching for Pittsburgh” (68), ‘Alone’ (79), ‘Highlights and Interstices’ (94), and ‘Tear It Down’ [earlier text] (61).


4 thoughts on ““Alone” by Jack Gilbert

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