Lost River: A Chapbook (Quarternote Chapbook Series)

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9781889330846: Lost River: A Chapbook (Quarternote Chapbook Series)
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"Tate’s originality was confirmed almost thirty years ago . . . testifying to the broad appeal of his wonderfully eccentric and generous poetry." John Ashbery

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About the Author:

James Tate's Selected Poems was published in 1991, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award. His volume of poems, Worshipful Company of Fletchers, published in 1994, was awarded the National Book Award. In 1995, the Academy of American Poets presented him with the Tanning Prize. Shroud of the Gnome was published by Ecco Press in 1997. His newest volume of poems, Memoir of the Hawk, is also available from Ecco Press. Tate teaches at the University of Massachusetts.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

It Happens Like This

I was outside St. Cecelia's Rectory
smoking a cigarette when a goat appeared beside me.
It was mostly black and white, with a little reddish
brown here and there. When I started to walk away,
it followed. I was amused and delighted, but wondered
what the laws were on this kind of thing. There's
a leash law for dogs, but what about goats? People
smiled at me and admired the goat. "It's not my goat,"
I explained. "It's the town's goat. I'm just taking
my turn caring for it." "I didn't know we had a goat,"
one of them said. "I wonder when my turn is." "Soon,"
I said. "Be patient. Your time is coming." The goat
stayed by my side. It stopped when I stopped. It looked
up at me and I stared into its eyes. I felt he knew
everything essential about me. We walked on. A police-
man on his beat looked us over. "That's a mighty
fine goat you got there," he said, stopping to admire.
"It's the town's goat," I said. "Hi family goes back
three-hundred years with us," I said, "from the beginning."
The officer leaned forward to touch him, then stopped
and looked up at me. "Mind if I pat him?" he asked.
"Touching this goat will change your life," I said.
"It's your decision." He thought real hard for a minute,
and then stood up and said, "What's his name?" "He's
called the Prince of Peace," I said. "God! This town
is like a fairy tale. Everywhere you turn there's mystery
and wonder. And I'm just a child playing cops and robbers
forever. Please forgive me if I cry." "We forgive you,
Officer," I said. "And we understand why you, more than
anybody, should never touch the Prince." The goat and
I walked on. It was getting dark and we were beginning
to wonder where we would spend the night.

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