Friday, November 14, 2008

Poem by Judith McCune

I keep this poem in my wallet. It's from The Atlantic magazine (March 2000, page 96), and I've kept it there for eight years. Like my eight-years-old wallet, it is fraying and may soon become unreadable. I wanted to post it here so that others may read this little-known poem. Click on the link below to read the entire poem:

I can't post the entire poem because of The Atlantic's copyright (a question for the IP and copyright lawyers out there: once the author is dead, does the copyright to her work diminish in any way, even though the owner of the copyright is the magazine, not the author?). In any case, I will quote the last stanza only to entice you to read the poem:

Now when Chiqui asks me how I've slept, I lie: Just fine, I say, though by this time I've learned the Spanish word for shame.

Copyright © 2000 by The Atlantic Monthly Company.

The poem neatly summarizes my old-fashioned world view. It has hard-working immigrants, caring family members, and a continuity of time (expressed through different generations of the same family). It also juxtaposes old-fashioned values against modern values in a way that makes the new values subservient to the old ones. Whenever I read McCune's poem, I fall in love with its style and content all over again.


Anonymous said...

In general, a copyright survives 70 years after an author's death if the work were created on or after January 1, 1978. For works for hire, there is a different set of rules. See the below link for details.

Judith Kunst said...


I'm humbled and amazed that you've kept my poem in your wallet for eight years (as of Nov 2008, at least)! I've just started my own blog ( and went looking on google for the Atlantic link. Thanks for providing it for me!