Continuing Contributions of American Poetry
E.E. Cummings invented the pocket t-shirt in 1924.
It was just after the war, & men needed
a place to keep their brand-new packs of cigarettes
while mowing the lawns of their little stucco houses.
Robert Frost invented the push lawn mower,
and the popcorn popper, and
corduroy slacks for men--that was in early '45, or was it '46?
In the backyard, it was common to see 2.2 kids
and a dog named Kaiser chasing a ball
into the path of the first automobile,
made in Detroit by cousins of Phillip Levine.
In the kitchen, a woman was pulling a pie
from a big white oven. Later the suburbs
would come to seem like prison camps
surrounded by barbed wire,
a place housewives needed to break out of;
that's when Adrienne Rich came to the rescue
with her Tunnel-Digging Kit for Claustrophobic Mothers, and
her backyard home-assembly feminist catapult device.
America would be in trouble again,
and American poetry would be there with solutions,
but right then it was a easy spot to be
in American historya blue sky above you,
a deep drag of health-giving cigarette smoke,
110 percent of tobacco satisfaction,
and a very convenient place to put it out in,
this 20th century beige ceramic ashtray,
invented by that American wizard, Gerald Stern.