Jack Gilbert
A Man in Black and White

There was a small butcher shop in the North End

of Boston whose specialty was inferior foods.

Chicken feet and chicken heads. Gizzards, tripe

and beef hearts. Salty fatback and wet brains.

Prosperous people came from the suburbs to pay

too much for the food they ate in hard times.

The man living with difficulty in the winter woods

remembers as he looks at the fresh raccoon tracks

in the snow and wonders if they will tug at him

in the Mediterranean light, if he will write

about the classical bareness of cold and truth

while eating the suckling pig and fried bananas

of Indonesia. Will he miss the Mill River

with its slags of ice and the sound of crows

in the silence. Some years ago, a child was asked

whether he liked radio or television best. The boy

said radio, because the pictures were better.

Found In Volume 41, No. 03
Read Issue
  • Jack Gilbert
Jack Gilbert
About the Author

Jack Gilbert was born in Pittsburgh in 1925. He is the author of Views of Jeopardy, the 1962 winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize; Monolithos, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; The Great Fires: Poems 1982-1992; and Refusing Heaven, winner of the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award. He died in November, 2012.