Donald Hall's "Poem with One Fact" begins with the striking line, "At pet stores in Detroit, you can buy/ frozen rats/for seventy-five cents apiece, to feed/ your pet boa constrictor." From this one fact, Hall investigates the separations present in the neighborhoods of Detroit through vivid, sometimes surreal, metaphors. In this poem, Hall, first poetry editor of the Paris Review and 2006 Poet Laureate of the United States, investigates themes of connection, socio-economic and cultural difference, and the barriers that must be breached if we are to live together in community. This poem challenges readers to remove themselves from the comfortable and familiar to imagine what the world might be like "if only we could communicate."
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Donald Hall, “Poem with One Fact” from Old and New Poems (1990).
Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.