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Jim Cory reads from 25 Short Poems

Quem recitas meus est, o Fidentine, libellus:
sed male cum recitas, incipit esse tuus.

Fidentius, when you recite my little book
badly, it becomes yours.


I went down to Philly to record Jim Cory in his lofty apartment in Center City full of more books and paintings than one usually sees in a visit, an extraordinary enviable collection. Looking west toward the Schuylkill River there was a lot of construction going on and we had to close the windows. “Real estate prices are going up just like New York,” Jim said a little sadly handing me a cup of coffee.

When we started to record 25 Short Poems, I thought of the poet Martial, another urban poet who tried his hand at epigrams. Who writes epigrams nowadays? Well, maybe Bernadette Mayer, but she writes everything. Actually, I think epigrams are timely. Martial had his Emperor Domitian and we have our President Trump. When times are bad one defiant thing to do is laugh.

We don’t have Fidentius, but Jim Cory himself to read his poems to us. He knows them well. He must. Whether you read them in the book or you hear them recited now, they have no flaws, no typos, and Jim, as you listen, doesn’t misplace one word, each pause has its length and place, every word knows where it is because brevity has no time for mistakes. In perfect time, direct your attention to these poems. You have a moment even before the firing squad to crack a smile. Like a laugh the epigram is now. I’ve typed out a few that Jim doesn’t read below. Enjoy.


When the man says Daboozie
rather than Debussy
it means curiosity’s
propelled him to teach himself
about this music why should I be
the one who despoils his enjoyment
by correcting


at 20 people
see 50 & think
that wont ever
be me at 50 you
see someone 80 & think
oh Christ that’s right
around the corner


the paintings were splendid but
largely derived & hardly justified our
host’s insistence on being
the room’s only voice
for the evening
fame: a flame
applied to a fart


the young who lack
the empathy to imagine
what it’s like to be old
become the old who lack
the sympathy to remember
what it’s like
to be young


friend says evolution’s fatal
turn came at the sign reading
he may have a point
tho it’s way too
late to back the car up now

25 Short Poems is published by Moonstone Press. Check them out here:


Jim Cory

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