Daniel At Breakfast

I don’t know much about poetry. I used to read the stuff Bukowski wrote when he was drunk and I know a couple of dirty limericks, but I don’t read a lot of poetry.

But I like this. It’s by Phyllis McGinley. I was reading a book of her essays and did a little research, since I wasn’t familiar with her work. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1961, wrote several children’s books, wrote for The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker, and was even on the cover of Time. She’s one of those people that was well-known in a mainstream way 60 years ago but is almost completely unknown now.

Though I bet you know and enjoy one thing she did. She wrote the book that the animated Christmas classic The Year Without A Santa Claus is based on. (I’m Mister Heat Miser…).

Daniel At Breakfast
by Phyllis McGinley

His paper propped against the electric toaster
(Nicely adjusted to his morning use)
Daniel at breakfast studies world disaster
And sips his orange juice

The words dismay him. Headlines shrilly chatter
Of famine, storm, death, pestilence, decay
Daniel is gloomy, reaching for the butter
He shudders at the way
War stalks the planet still, and men know hunger
Go shelterless, betrayed, may perish soon
The coffee’s weak again, in sudden anger
Daniel throws down his spoon

And broods a moment on the kitchen faucet
The plumber mended, but has mended ill;
Recalls tomorrow means a dental visit,
Laments the grocery bill

Then, having shifted from his human shoulder
The universal woe, he drains his cup,
Rebukes the weather (surely turning colder),
Crumples his napkin up
And, kissing his wife abruptly at the door,
Stamps fiercely off to catch the 8:04