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The House of Dying

Here I am, in a Brooklyn backyard, reading Donald Hall,
A book of 1970s poems called “Kicking The Leaves”
From around the time when he moved back
To the old New Hampshire homestead where his
Great-grandfather farmed from after the Civil War

Until the year before the so-called Great War.
I’m told he still lives there, frail and old,
And recently The New Yorker published
What one could only read as the poet’s note of farewell.
Yet here I am, watching the birds in April

While the trees are budding and the difference
Between a male and a female sparrow becomes apparent:
The males marvel, posed but alert,
As the females shake their wings and asses,
A call for assistance from the reproductive branch.

On the pages, I return again to “the house of dying”,
A phrase written in the middle of life
And a terrific title for a book
That a person could write when he is done
Jotting down the lines of this poem and the next

With a cheap plastic pen from the Algonquin Hotel
And done sitting here, in this cathedral of spindly maples,
As cardinals, robins, finches, and brown thrashers
Descend from on high, like prayers
No one needs to answer.

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Elements of Style

I don’t use emoticons
Or exclamation marks
And I don’t capitalize words
To make them brawl and bark
I use italics sparingly
Like fish sauce or Danish Blue
Lest my paragraphs become
Potpourris or cheese fondue.
 

Language is like music
With precision, grace and mojo
Exaggeration makes the world
Pocket-sized and so-so
From Shakespeare to Updike
They never needed an air hammer
The real power-tool for the job
Is a little thing called grammar.

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Prayer

I pray, dear Lord,
To draft and scribble
Until the day You say, “Quit!”

And summon me to
The main library halls
To reassess my writ

Oh, let my work
(Wherein I praise Your creation)
Find grace when your angels read it

And let not St. Peter
That grouchy librarian
Stamp it A WASTE OF SQUID

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Twelve Bar Blues

Feed the cat
Feed the birds
Glance at poem
Change a word
 
Boil some water
Grind some beans
Brush your teeth
By all means
 
Turn the dial
Morning news
Lover’s kiss
Twelve bar blues

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Hobo’s Lullaby

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Thanksgiving Limerick

The Europeans followed Hernán Cortés
And made a new world of freedom and show biz
Oh, that sweet American thing
Where thanks we give and bring
And remind turkeys of La Révolution Française

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Umbrella

Umbrella

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