Home > Poetry > The Haberdasher Instructs His Sons
Published: Fri Oct 15 1976
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
The Haberdasher Instructs His Sons

_       _ The sock has been known to march without the foot. Its steps are lighter and much more clever than the slipper. A man is nothing without his shoes, he must wait for warmer weather or trudge through the streets with his feet wrapped in newsprint.
_       _ When the shoes and socks depart, the pants are soon to follow. They have no need to walk; with each leg a wing they soar over the avenues and boulevards, much the way a goose seeks passage in the barnyard.
_       _ The shirt is another story. Like its brother the jacket it is capable of a strong wind. It can button its wrists and hand to a branch as long as it likes.
_       _ Luckily for the man, the hat and cap have been domesticated. They have found where their loyalties rest.
_       _ Oh my children, if I spoke of women I could mention the countless handkerchiefs and scarves abandoned in parks by ladies of all lasses and backgrounds.
_       _ The underwear has never left of its own volition. When a man removes the cloth closest to his skin, he is wary of its presence. He does not display it like the blazer or necktie.
_       _ He will hide his briefs or boxer shorts in a drawer or the basin of a hamper as though they contained a confession. They are always the first to be immersed in water.
_       _ Yes, more so than the pants, shirts, shoes, or socks, when the underpants realize their historical task and follow their comrades, the man will be truly vulnerable.

See what's inside AGNI 5 and 6

Stuart Dischell is the author of Children with Enemies (University of Chicago Press, 2017), as well as Good Hope Road, a 1991 National Poetry Series Selection (Viking, 1993); Evenings & Avenues (Penguin, 1996); Dig Safe (Penguin, 2003); and Backwards Days (Penguin, 2007). Dischell’s poems have been published in journals such as The Atlantic, The New Republic, AGNI, Slate, The Kenyon Review, and in anthologies including Essential Pleasures, Hammer and Blaze, The Pushcart Prize, and Good Poems. A recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, he teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at University of North Carolina Greensboro. He is a contributing editor of AGNI. (updated 4/2019)

Dischell’s first full-length collection Good Hope Road was reviewed in AGNI 40 by Joseph Lease.

Dischell’s collection Evenings & Avenues was reviewed in AGNI 46 by George Weld.

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