Monday, December 26, 2022


Someone has a memory
Of Michael as a handsome,
Weather-beaten, middle-aged

Man with a full head of hair,
Cupping a hand to his ear
In a quiet conference room,

Quarter-century ago.
He was in that conference room
With the crutches and wheelchairs

Since, in the middle of life,
He was losing his hearing,
And now disability

In the academic world
Had become pressingly real.
Lotos-like, this memory

Opens in a quiet mind
Reading a gushing review
Of a decent book of poems—

The kind of review in which
Many fine male names get checked—
Adorno, Beckett, Celan,

Oppen, Derrida, Joyce, Yeats,
Stevens—to irritation,
So that someone checks the name

At the end of the review
And sees Michael’s and recalls
His delicate white hand cupped,

A strange gesture in that room
Of BTE hearing aids
And staccato ASL,

The man in his well-cut suit,
Earnest, polite newcomer,
The stranger listening in.

Oh, Michael, how are you still
Writing as if the eighties
Only now washed you ashore?

But nothing else surfaces,
Just that image of him perched
Between wheelchairs, stranded man.

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