Sign

By George Starbuck

Virgin, sappy, gorgeous, the right-now

Flutters its huge prosthetics at us, flung

To the spotlights, frozen in motion, center-ice.


And the first rows, shaken with an afterslice

That’s bowled them into their seats like a big wet ciao.

O daffy panoply O rare device


O flashing leg-iron at a whopping price

Whipping us into ecstasies and how,

The whole galumphing Garden swung and swung,


A rescue helicopter’s bottom rung

Glinting and spinning off, a scud of fluff,

A slash of petals up against the bough,


A juggler’s avalanche of silken stuff

Gushing in white-hot verticals among

Camels and axels and pyramids, oh wow,


Bewilderment is parachute enough.

We jolt. A sidewise stutterstep in chorus.

The other billboards flicker by before us.


Gone! with a budded petulance that stung.

So talented! So targeted! So young!

Such concentration on the bottom line!


We vanish down the IRT. A shine.

A glimmer. Something. Nothing. To think twice

Was to have lost the trick of paradise.

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George Starbuck

George Starbuck was born in 1931 in Columbus, Ohio. He studied at over universities including, Harvard and University of Chicago. After his time at school he spent 2 years as a Corporal in the Military Police Corps. He then began teaching at the Iowa Writer's Workshop and then continued to teach at 2 more universities. He died in 1996 after a 20 year long battle with Parkinson's Disease.
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Theme of Sign

This poem has not one theme. George Starbuck jumps all around with this poem and at some points it does not make any sense, however, this is the sort of person George is. A lot of his works include themes such as, clever rhymes, witty asides and Romanticism. He also has much cynicism towards modern life which he expresses in Sign, by not keeping his mind on one set theme or idea throughout the poem.


The last line of Sign where George says, "to think twice is to have lost the trick of paradise." makes me think that he s trying to say, never think twice, because if you do; you could miss out on something great.