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After the Splendid Display

Wesleyan University Press, 1986

After the Splendid Display is about the gleam of surfaces--a Victorian tennis party, a memorable dinner, business empires, a renovated town square--and what is hidden beneath them. Its concerns are with origins, including memories and odd corners of the past engaged in a rich diversity of forms.

Don Bogen especially interests me because he is that rarity, a splendid political poet. He writes constantly aware of the tragedy of power going from the more alive to the less alive.
--Thom Gunn

What a sensitive ear he has, what a freely ranging intelligence. After the Splendid Display is a first book with the delicacy and maturity of a seasoned talent.
--Alfred Corn

Poems from After the Splendid Display


When they step out from apartments facing the park
a little awning goes a ways with them.
Carpet massages their soles. A uniform
stands ready to call them a cab. When they start
their slow stroll down the street, up float some
friendly windows showing off the art
of hand-painted porcelain, clothes--a shirt
with a name sewn on, some silk--a dressed ham.
In the delight of day they take their ease,
and the world shimmers around them like a net
of light. All things are linked: those mounted police,
that man with balloons tied on his wrist, the pet
Weimaraner they love. Lank, beautiful,
he drifts ahead on his strap like a gray sail.

All Shook Up

Elvis couldn't twitch a hip
or Ed would get the sack,
so they bundled his dream thighs
in flabby charcoal slacks

and tried to keep the cameras high
while Ed paced in the wings,
glaring at the monitors
where Elvis snarled, beading

sweat on a curled lip. Four
aging sharkskin crooners hummed
chords to muffle the beat,
blurred in swing harmony like some

USO group, sweet
as Karo. The fat microphone
was too far off to grab,
the slung guitar he'd brought from home

was cut off at the strap, the drab
curtain just waited to drop.
So did Ed. His really big show
was floating at the top

of Eisenhower Sundays. Who could know
the tiny screens would pop,
the cloth-smothered speakers split with the news
that we were all shook up?