B- / C+

Original Text: 
David McGimpsey, Sitcom (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2007): 34-36.
1This is a most interesting paper,
2David. You have a rare sympathy
4intriguingly placed in the middle
6Auden undoubtedly read Shakespeare
7(though that quote you employ on page 7,
9should not be attributed to Auden,
10or any poor poet, for that matter).
11And maybe Auden had a take on Hamlet
12that stretched to its scene-stealing fop,
13but it is most likely he did not,
14as you suggest on page 12,
15'sympathize deeply with the quaint argot
17sadly died in 1973,
18a full five glorious years before
19WKRP in Cincinnati aired.
22Besides the obvious anachronism
23(and I'm not sure you're not just being droll)
24there was a liveliness to your writing,
25even if it wasn't, as you say, 'academical.'
26in fact, many of the things you say strike me
27as original. One of the few times
28you actually came to class you said
31when he realizes he can't buy friendship.'
32Though preposterously obscene, I thought
33yours was the best reading I heard in class.
35and I wasn't taking the mid-paper nap
36that is standard in my grading regimen.
37Maybe it's best not to impeach myself
38reminding you the Spanish Civil War wasn't
39fought over 'Iberian Stamp Taxing,'
40and Medieval Denmark was not noted
41for 'its painful shoes made from cockles.'
42I won't harp on typos or grammatical slips,
43on your penchant for calling the Moderns
44'the prophets of ."that's a pretty big if ."'
45because you remind me of a young me.
47(I mean, I was calling the TV Mommy;
48I mean, I was hugging my shoes like children;
50was floating in my kitchen saying, 'I love you
51as much as I love the fancy mustards.'),
52judging stories in a local contest--
53all these homey tales of curious cats
54and unhappy couples in their apartments .Àæ
55I wasn't grossed out by the bad writing,
56but, in my fog, appalled with myself,
57I thought, Who am I to judge anything?
58Was I any less naive when I set up
59my shelves in my little office at Buford
61My colleagues told me my hiring was a fluke
62but I smiled like a fleet banjo player.
63In their eyes I was just a bald barber,
64funny around a comb, loved about town.
65As good as any nine-fingered butcher,
67mixing plaid with plaid in a swell of jeans.
68Like Osric, I'm here to remind Hamlet
69the king's wagered 'six Barbary horses,'
70like Arthur Carlson, to stammer assurance
71that the station-format change to 'all rock,'
72Mother, is completely out of my hands.
73So, David, I dream of the same thing you do
74and you know who I mean: she sits up front
75and laughs when I bring up my theatre days:
76the humiliations of auditions,
77learning life lessons while in full dress.
78But I'd never ask her to Mexico;
79she'd assuredly miss her great home state--
80the one with all the granite quarries,
81the one where she pines for young men like you
82who'll treat her poorly and be on their way.
83So, don't wake up the dean, little Arthur;
84I bet you Uncle Ben had to listen
85to endless stories about cooking rice,
86probably sometimes wondered, 'How come
87nobody ever asks me about potatoes?'
88Is it any different out there for you?
89Isn't your favourite episode predictable?
90The one where live turkeys are dropped
92my collection of ceramic ibises,
96A gleeless cog, I can't give you an A
97when you say Auden, to 'pay for a wig,
98sold tremens-inducing diet pills to kids.'
99These comments may not lead to graduate school,
100but, David, you will always have a friend.

Notes

3] Osric: the fop-messenger in Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Arthur Carlson: "The Big Guy" in the TV sitcom, WKRP in Cincinnati (1978.-82). Back to Line
5] W.H. Auden (1907-1973), Anglo-American poet. Back to Line
8] mambotastica: fantastic mambo (dancing). Back to Line
16] Les Nessman: comic news director in the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. Back to Line
20] Jennifer: Jennifer Marlowe, WKRP's blonde beauty and receptionist, played by Loni Anderson. Back to Line
21] Johnny Fever: a burned-out veteran disc jockey in the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. Back to Line
29] Timon of Athens, Shakespeare's play about a Roman misanthrope. Back to Line
30] fucktard: fucking (i.e., very) retarded guy.
hissy fit: hysterical fit of temper. Back to Line
34] takes: candid critical observations. Back to Line
46] Vicodin: severe painkiller hydrocodone and paracetamol (acetaminophen). Back to Line
49] ALF: the "alien life form" from a popular 80's sitcom of the same name (1986-90). Back to Line
60] puck: perhaps an allusion to Eugene Judd, named Puck, a dwarf superhero bouncer from Saskatoon in the Canadian comic book Alpha Flight published by Marvel Comics. Back to Line
66] Herb Tarlek: radio station sales manager in the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati. Back to Line
91] Les Newman relates the most famous episode in the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, the death of many turkeys after being dropped from a helicopter as an advertising stunt, in a parody of the radio broadcast of the burning of the Hindenburg air-ballon ship. Back to Line
93] Stevens' Harmonium: the 1923 (first) poetry book by Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), American poet. Back to Line
94] Jim Varney: the actor who played Ernest in the "Ernest films" (above). Back to Line
95] Susan Hawk: celebrated contestant of the reality-TV series Survivor. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
2011
Rhyme: 
Form: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © David McGimpsey and used by permission of the poet.
Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from him in writing.