A feature of English landscape architecture, a ha-ha is a wall at the bottom of a ditch; its purpose is to allow the presence of cows and sheep on one's lawn, but at an agreeable distance and with none of the malodorous unsightliness that proximity would bring. Similarly, The Ha-Ha, the latest offering from poet David Kirby, is both an exploration of the ways in which the mind invites chaos yet keeps it at a distance and an apologia for humor, reflecting Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh's observation that tragedy is merely underdeveloped comedy. Embracing wit, wide-ranging scholarship, and an equal love of travel as well as the pleasures of home, The Ha-Ha depicts comedy as a radical form of intelligence, a way of thinking that just happens to be noisy and rumbustious.
We are staying with Barbara's parents on Oahu, and the first night we're there, I notice an angry-looking man is staring at me out of the neighbor's upstairs window and mumbling something, but the second night I realize that it's that poster of Bo Diddley from the famous Port Arthur concert, and there's a phone wirein front of his face that bobs up and down when the trade winds blow,
which they do constantly, making it seem as though Mr. Diddley is saying something to me.
From "The Ha-Ha, Part I: The Tao of Bo Diddley" published in The Ha-Ha: Poems by David Kirby. Copyright © 2003 by David Kirby. All rights reserved.
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About the Author
The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University, David Kirby is the author of twenty previous books, including the poetry collection The House of Blue Light. His poems have been published in Best American Poetry 2000 and 2001 and in Pushcart Prize XXV. He is a recipient of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry and a Guggenheim fellowship among other honors. He and his wife, poet Barbara Hamby, live in Tallahassee. For more information visit www.davidkirby.com.
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