Special Orders: Poems

Special Orders: Poems

by Edward Hirsch


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375711558
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/05/2010
Pages: 80
Sales rank: 1,305,441
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Edward Hirsch is the author of seven previous collections of poetry. He has received numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship and a National Book Critics Circle Award, and publishes regularly in journals such as American Poetry Review and The New Yorker. A longtime teacher in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, he is now president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Read an Excerpt

Branch Library

I wish I could find that skinny, long-beaked boy who perched in the branches of the old branch library.

He spent the Sabbath flying between the wobbly stacks and the flimsy wooden tables on the second floor,

pecking at nuts, nesting in broken spines, scratching notes under his own corner patch of sky.

I'd give anything to find that birdy boy again bursting out into the dusky blue afternoon

with his satchel of scrawls and scribbles,
radiating heat, singing with joy.

A Few Encounters With My Face

Who is that moonlit stranger staring at me
through the fog of a bathroom mirror

Wrinkles form a parenthesis around the eyes dry wells of sadness at three a.m.

The forehead furrows in a scowl a question mark puzzled since childhood

Faint scrawl of chickenpox and measles broken asthma nights breathing steam

Hair thinning like his grandfather’s all those bald ancestral thoughts

The nose a ram’s horn a scroll as long and bumpy as the centuries

Greed of a Latvian horse thief surprised by the lights

Primitive double chin divided in two a mother and father divorcing

Deep red pouches and black bags a life given to sleeplessness

Earnest grooves ironic blotches secret scars memories medallions of middle age

It would take a Cubist to paint this dark face splitting in three directions

Identify these features with rapture and despair one part hilarity two parts grief


We waited on two sides of the subway tracks:
you were riding uptown and I was heading downtown to a different apartment, after all these years.

We were almost paralyzed, as anxious travelers surged around us in waves,
and then you started to pantomime.

First, you touched your right eye.
Then you palmed your left knee.
Finally, you pointed at me.

I made of a sign of understanding back to you but the train suddenly roared into the station and you disappeared.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Special Orders 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
allthesedarnbooks on LibraryThing 6 months ago
This is a pretty average poetry collection. The majority of the poems are rather run-of-the mill, with a few stand-outs: the title poem, "Special Orders," "Cold Calls," and "After a Long Insomniac Night" come to mind. Overall nothing to get too excited about, and I wouldn't seek out another collection by Hirsch. Three stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Edward Hirsch is a master a capturing the feeling of a moment. I loved the poem 'Cotton Candy' I have shared it with others and even read it last night at a reading of poetry for poets to share their own as well as favorite poets. I look forward to the day when he will be our poet laureate.