Philip Appelman--American



Philip Appleman

(1926-    ) 

Appleman, distinguished professor emeritus of the Department of English at Indiana University—Bloomington, served in the U.S. Army Air Corps and the U.S. Merchant Marine Corps during the Second World War. Throughout his career he has published seven volumes of poetry, three novels, including Apes and Angels, and half a dozen non-fiction books. His most awarded non-fiction work is the Darwin and the Norton Critical Edition of Malthus’ Essay on Population. Appleman has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Friend of Darwin Award from the National Center for Science Education, and the Humanist Arts Award of the American Humanist Association. His work has appeared in a number of prestigious publications including Harper’s, The Nation, The New Republic, Paris Review, Partisan Review and the Yale Review.


The Persistence of Memory

We have been through them now, the silver

anniversaries: VE-Day,

the Bomb, the wreck

of Japan, all

misted in quaintness—and still

they keep coming,

brown women swirling past,

the armies somewhere behind them, burning

the villages: always the same,

the same weary women each year,

muddy skeletons lugging

the brass pots, tugging the delicate children,

camping in culverts, eating grass-

and the rich bombers run

on their shabby targets; kids

in helmets inch

through torn jungles; somewhere at sea,

ships lob shells

at the horizon—it is all a memory

of old men:

the brave planes limping home,

balding heroes sending

their sons to glory, the bleeding

always the same, like father

like son, breastplate

and buckler rusting

in a dream of blood we

move through, open-eyed,

sons of our dreaming

waiting for all the memories to fade.

On a Morning Full of Sun
One of our gulls 

is keening in the flat

blue light: something

is gone, is gone, is gone—a hundred

teen-age boys picked out

of mud, zipped into

plastic bags, and air-mailed

home to Mom.


White wings sweep over our beach

in formation: straw huts leap

 nto flame—something

press my M-16

is gone, is gone—I stagger up the sand,

to the skull of a peasant girl,

and watch the bone

go chipping off and dancing

through the flat blue keening