Weather Forecast


American Life in Poetry: Monument

By Ted Kooser

I suspect that one thing some people have against reading poems is that they are so often so serious, so devoid of joy, as if we poets spend all our time brooding about mutability and death and never having any fun. Here Cornelius Eady, who lives and teaches in Indiana, offers us a poem of pure pleasure.

A Small Moment

I walk into the bakery next door

To my apartment. They are about

To pull some sort of toast with cheese

From the oven. When I ask:

What's that smell? I am being

A poet, I am asking

What everyone else in the shop

Wanted to ask, but somehow couldn't;

I am speaking on behalf of two other

Customers who wanted to buy the

Name of it. I ask the woman

Behind the counter for a percentage

Of her sale. Am I flirting?

Am I happy because the days

Are longer? Here's what

She does: She takes her time

Choosing the slices. "I am picking

Out the good ones," she tells me. It's

April 14th. Spring, with five to ten

Degrees to go. Some days, I feel my duty;

Some days, I love my work.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 1997 by Cornelius Eady, from his most recent book of poetry, "Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems," A Marian Wood Book, Putnam, 2008. Reprinted by permission of Cornelius Eady. Introduction copyright (c) 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.