John Tate's Last Poem: All that I had accomplished

Today I was listening to a lecture by Tony Hoagland and I heard how he was inspired by John Tate's style.  I tried finding John Tate on Amazon I found a $200 book. I know some of the poetry compilations could be expensive, but this was over the top. Maybe the poems were that good; and now I was even more intrigued. It turns out that the John Tate I found was a mathematician. And now it all makes sense.  The stupid world puts a lot more value on Math than poetry. What are the chances?  This echoes with the last poem of John Tate that was found on his typewriter. What Guru Tegh Bahadur says about life so pensively in Ab Main Kahaa Karon Ri Mai: "I have wasted my whole life in poisonous pursuits. Now what should I do O Mother?" is said by John Tate rather funnily and sarcastically.  Both the poems are great meditations on life. All colors of Naam are sweet!

In John Tate's case he seems to believe he hasn't really accomplished much this year; so the poem goes on to make obviously ridiculous claims.  What are the chances we have accomplished anything this year or this life!  Here is a picture of the poem that was found on his typewriter:



I sat at my desk and contemplated all that I had accomplished
this year. I had won the hot dog eating contest on Rhode Island.
No, I hadn’t. I was just kidding. I was the arm wrestling champion
in Portland, Maine. False. I caught the largest boa constrictor
in Southern Brazil. In my dreams. I built the largest house
out of matchsticks in all the United States. Wow! I caught
a wolf by its tail. Yumee. I married the Princess of Monaco.
Can you believe it? I fell off of Mount Everest. Ouch! I walked
back up again. It was tiring. Snore. I set a record for sitting
in my chair and snoring longer than anybody. Awake! I set a record
for swimming from one end of my bath to the other in No Count,
Nebraska. Blurb. I read a book written by a dove. Great! I slept
in my chair all day and all night for thirty days. Whew! I ate
a cheeseburger every day for a year. I never want to do that again.
A trout bit me when I was washing the dishes. But I couldn’t catch
him. I flew over my hometown and didn’t recognize anyone. That’s
how long it’s been. A policeman stopped me on the street and said
he was sorry. He was looking for someone who looked just like
me and had the same name. What are the chances?

*This poem was found in the poet’s typewriter after his death.


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