Shibboleth

Shibboleth

One didn't know the name of Tarzan's monkey.
Another couldn't strip the cellophane
From a GI's pack of cigarettes.
By such minutiae were the infiltrators detected.

By the second week of battle
We'd become obsessed with trivia.
At a sentry point, at midnight, in the rain,
An ignorance of baseball could be lethal.

The morning of the first snowfall, I was shaving,
Staring into a mirror nailed to a tree,
Intoning the Christian names of the Andrews Sisters.
'Maxine, Laverne, Patty.'


from Remembering Dances Learned Last Night (Picador, 2000), copyright © Michael Donaghy 2000, used by permission of the author's estate and the publisher.

Recordings

Michael Donaghy Reading from His Poems

1Caliban's Books

2Our Life Stories

3Irena of Alexandria

4The Tragedies

5Not Knowing the Words

6The Excuse

7Resolution

8Tears

9The River in Spate

10The Drop

11Black Ice and Rain

12Reprimands

13My Flu

14Haunts

15The Hunter's Purse

16A Repertoire

17A Reprieve

18Down

19City of God

20Liverpool

21The Brother

22Held

23Reliquary

24Machines

25Pentecost

26Shibboleth

27The Present

28Southwesternmost

29Alas, Alice

30Refusals

31Acts of Contrition

32Cruising Byzantium

33'Smith'

34Annie

35Local 32B

Books & cds by Michael Donaghy