John Updike: “Cosmic Gall”




Neutrinos, they are very small. 
They have no charge and have no mass 
And do not interact at all. 
The earth is just a silly ball 
To them, through which they simply pass, 
Like dustmaids down a drafty hall 
Or photons through a sheet of glass. 
They snub the most exquisite gas, 
Ignore the most substantial wall, 
Cold shoulder steel and sounding brass, 
Insult the stallion in his stall, 
And scorning barriers of class, 
Infiltrate you and me! Like tall 
and painless guillotines, they fall 
Down through our heads into the grass. 
At night, they enter at Nepal 
and pierce the lover and his lass 
From underneath the bed-you call 
It wonderful; I call it crass.

John Updike (b. 18 March 1932)

image: John Updike Dead at 76 by Wolf Gang


~ by matt on 28 January 2009.

3 Responses to “John Updike: “Cosmic Gall””

  1. Matt,

    I just KNEW before my morning coffee log in to the poemgolem that there would be a tribute to John Updike. And, there it was. Just as I expected. Thank you for the photo and poem. 1968. U.S. Army Basic Training. Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina. Summer is so… well it is so pleasant there. I spent a Four Months of Sundays in the base library reading Updike in front of a noisy humming fan.

    Amicus poeticae,


  2. Thanks for sharing that memory, Neal. Just realized that I have several friends with distinct memories of what they read in basic training. You devoured Updike, another read Thomas Pynchon, while yet another plowed through Proust. “What I Read During Basic Training” seems like a viable class of experiences. Any takers?

    Thanks again Neal.

  3. the loss of John Updike makes me wonder if the literary world is being replenished at the same rate that it’s losing such great writers

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Natalie E. Illum...

is a poet, performer and disability activist. Bring her stumbling to your city.

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