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Kirby Olson


Young Woman Powdering Herself by Georges Seurat

They live at the end of the lane
where there is a single streetlamp.

Their life is made of purchase orders:
pencils, shoes, buttons, diapers.

Fathers go for a walk on a golden street.
The streets share lonely sheriffs and shaded men.


About the writer:
When Kirby Olson studied with Allen Ginsberg in the 70s, he gave him this poem, as it was the only poem he’d written up to that point.

I have often met the beauty of the living
It was in the magenta sunset.
It was in the hummingbird.
It was a child reaching up to kiss his mother goodnight.

Ginsberg told him to write a big, dirty, sex poem instead. Olson thought Ginsberg was crazy, but it was funny. All of Olson’s poems in some way are about family, but now more about his own children rather than his parents. He still thinks that true beauty can only happen inside of families. Olson’s poems have been in Poetry East, Partisan Review, and a hundred others. Explore Kirby Olson’s offering Poems for Families in the O:JA&L 2022 Pamphlet Series.

Image: Young Woman Powdering Herself by Georges Seurat (1859-1891). Oil on canvas. 81.6 x 121.2 inches. 1884. Public domain.

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