About this poet

Born in Indiana on February 8, 1926, Philip Appleman served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and in the Merchant Marine after the war. He has degrees from Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Lyon, France.

His most recent collection, Karma, Dharma, Pudding & Pie (W. W. Norton, 2009) is a collaboration with the illustrator Arnold Roth. In the foreword to the book, X. J. Kennedy describes the poems as "hilarious, technically dazzling poetic flights."

His other acclaimed books of poetry include New and Selected Poems, 1956-1996 (1996); Let There Be Light (1991); Darwin's Bestiary (1986); Open Doorwarys (1976); and Summer Love and Surf (1968). He is also the author of three novels, including Apes and Angels (Putnam, 1989); and six volumes of nonfiction, including the Norton Critical Edition, Darwin (1970).

Appleman has taught at Columbia University, SUNY Purchase, and is currently Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Indiana University, Bloomington. He has also served on the Governing Board of the Poetry Society of America and the Poets Advisory Board of Poets House.

His many awards include a Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize, and both the Castagnola Award and the Morley Award from the Poetry Society of America.

He lives with his wife, the playwright Marjorie Appleman, in New York City and Pompano Beach, Florida.

Arts & Sciences

Philip Appleman, 1926
"Everyone carries around in the back of
his mind the wreck of a thing he calls
his education." —Stephen Leacock

SOLID GEOMETRY Here's a nice thought we can save: The luckiest thing about sex Is: you happen to be so concave In the very same place I'm convex. BOTANY Your thighs always blossomed like orchids, You had rose hips when we danced, But the question that always baffled me was: How can I get into those plants? ECONOMICS Diversification's a virtue, And as one of its multiple facets, when we're merging, it really won't hurt you To share your disposable assets. GEOGRAPHY Russian you would be deplorable, But your Lapland is simply Andorrable So my Hungary fantasy understands Why I can't keep my hands off your Netherlands. LIT. SURVEY Alexander composed like the Pope, Swift was of course never tardy, And my Longfellow's Wildest hope Is to find you right next to my Hardy. PHYSICS If E is how eager I am for you, And m is your marvelous body, And c means the caring I plan for you, Then E = Magna Cum Laude. MUSIC APPRECIATION You're my favorite tune, my symphony, So please do me this favor: Don't ever change, not even a hemi- Demi-semiquaver. ART APPRECIATION King Arthur, betrayed by Sir Lancelot, Blamed the poets who'd praised him, and spake: "That knight's nights are in the Queen's pantsalot, So from now on your art's for Art's sake." ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM I couldn’t do Goyas or Grecos, And my Rembrandts had zero panache, But after I junked all my brushes, My canvases made quite a splash. PHILOSOPHY 1. Blaise Pascal Pascal, reflecting tearfully On our wars for the Holy Pigeon, Said, "Alas, we do evil most cheerfully When we do it for religion." 2. René Descartes The unruly dactyls and anapests Were thumping their wild dithyrambic When Descartes with a scowl very sternly stressed: "I think, therefore iambic!" 3. Thomas Hobbes Better at thinking than loving, He deserved his wife's retort: On their wedding night, she told him, "Tom, That was nasty, brutish – and short!"

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Appleman. Reprinted from Poetry magazine. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2006 by Philip Appleman. Reprinted from Poetry magazine. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Philip Appleman

Philip Appleman

Born in Indiana in 1926, Philip Appleman served in the U.S. Army

by this poet

poem
1. 
  
O Karma, Dharma, pudding & pie,
gimme a break before I die: 
grant me wisdom, will, & wit, 
purity, probity, pluck, & grit. 
Trustworthy, helpful, friendly, kind, 
gimme great abs and a steel-trap mind. 
And forgive, Ye Gods, some humble advice - 
these little blessings would suffice 
to beget
poem
As the black wings close in on you, 
their circling shadows blighting the sand, 
and your limp legs buckle, far 
from that shimmering oasis 
on the horizon, 

as you face the implacable, 
hoping for one more lucky reprieve 
which you feel in your quivering heart 
will arrive a moment too late, 

still, 
even