In honor of the fact that my Library of America collection of some of Kurt Vonnegut's major works finally arrived last week - 38 days after Amazon shipped it - and I do mean "shipped" - I though it might be fun to run a poem by the late and great Mr. Vonnegut. Trouble is that while Vonnegut was a prolific novelist who wrote many short stories and even the occasional odd play, he really doesn't appear to have crafted much poetry.
I did find one Vonnegut poem that caught my attention, however, a tribute to another great American novelist: Joseph Heller. Not only does the following poem pay homage to Heller, it also contains a simple, yet scathing, attack on America's primary religion: greed.
by Kurt Vonnegut
True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22′
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in peace!
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.