This is maybe my favorite James Merrill poem. And a good example of why I think all poetry is conceptual poetry, as all poetry is ‘language’ poetry — This is found language, formed by the poet into a lyric — even rhymed, poem. Maybe the last line is trite, but… #dontcare, this poem is fucking gorgeous.
James Merrill: Playing our song
by James Merrill
Behind grillwork (buff plastic
In would-be deco style)
The war goes on. With each further
Hair’s-breadth turn of the dial:
“Kids love it —” “Sex probe in Congress
Triggers rage and denial,”
The weatherman predicting
Continued cold and rain,
Then high-frequency wails of
All too human pain.
Announcer: “That was a test. Now
‘Nights in the Garden of Spain’.”
A black man’s mild, exhausted
“Honey, I could be wrong…”
Gives rise to snickers of static
— But wait. Listen. This long
Ghastly morning, one station
Has never stopped playing our song.
From “A Scattering of Salts,” 1995; pg. 653 in the ‘Collected Poems’ published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, New York: 2001.