Karl Shapiro

(10 November 1913 – 14 May 2000 / Baltimore, Maryland)

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Manhole Covers


The beauty of manhole covers--what of that?
Like medals struck by a great savage khan,
Like Mayan calendar stones, unliftable, indecipherable,
Not like the old electrum, chased and scored,
Mottoed and sculptured to a turn,
But notched and whelked and pocked and smashed
With the great company names
(Gentle Bethlehem, smiling United States).
This rustproof artifact of my street,
Long after roads are melted away will lie
Sidewise in the grave of the iron-old world,
Bitten at the edges,
Strong with its cryptic American,
Its dated beauty.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Friday, July 29, 2011

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Comments about this poem (Manhole Covers by Karl Shapiro )

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  • Daniel Y. (4/9/2014 8:04:00 PM)

    A beautiful poem, full of wit and style.
    It's similar to some that I've done. Check out my poems
    Tissues
    and
    The Couch (Report) Reply

  • Sidi Mahtrow (4/5/2012 7:54:00 AM)

    It lies there
    Surrounded by metal, as its own
    Encased in concrete
    Long hardened and dark with age.

    But below,
    A hidden kingdom
    Where elves play
    Emitting foul aromas
    That keep mankind away.

    And in these dark recesses
    Lurks a time capsule of the past
    When man walked upright
    And shouldered his burdens
    But, alas, no more.

    The manhole cover, Covers.

    s (Report) Reply

Read all 4 comments »

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