Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Remembering Steve Orlen

The University of Arizona's Steve Orlen, a writing professor and poet who died of cancer, is to be remembered with a memorial service on, Saturday, the Arizona Daily Wildcat reports. He is remembered not only for his work but for the many people he inspired as a professor and friend.

In honor of Orlen's life and his poetry, the UA Poetry Center is hosting a memorial service, "A Tribute to Steve Orlen," this Saturday, Jan. 22 from 3 – 5 p.m.

Monkey Mind by Steve Orlen

When I was a child I had what is called an inner life.

For example, I looked at that girl over there
In the second aisle of seats and wondered what it was like
To have buck teeth pushing out your upper lip
And how it felt to have those little florets the breasts
Swelling her pajama top before she went to sleep.
Walking home, I asked her both questions
And instead of answering she told her mother
Who told the teacher who told my father.
After all these years, I can almost feel his hand
Rising in the room, the moment in the air of his decision,
Then coming down so hard it took my breath away,
And up again in that small arc
To smack his open palm against my butt.
I’m a slow learner
And still sometimes I’m sitting here wondering what my father
Is thinking, blind and frail and eighty-five,
Plunged down into his easy chair half the night
Listening to Bach cantatas. I know he knows
At every minute of every hour that he’s going to die
Because he told my mother and my mother told me.
I didn’t cry or cry out or say I’m sorry.
I lay across his lap and wondered what
He could be thinking to hit a kid like that.


  1. I love that poem. What a great loss to the writing community.

  2. I know Hannah - I confess I had never heard of him until this morning, though.

  3. Great poem. He takes you right there with him.