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A Poetry Reading At West Point Analysis

Author: poem of William Matthews Type: poem Views: 12

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I read to the entire plebe class,

in two batches. Twice the hall filled

with bodies dressed alike, each toting

a copy of my book. What would my

shrink say, if I had one, about

such a dream, if it were a dream?

Question and answer time.

"Sir," a cadet yelled from the balcony,

and gave his name and rank, and then,

closing his parentheses, yelled

"Sir" again. "Why do your poems give

me a headache when I try

to understand them?" he asked. "Do

you want that?" I have a gift for

gentle jokes to defuse tension,

but this was not the time to use it.

"I try to write as well as I can

what it feels like to be human,"

I started, picking my way care-

fully, for he and I were, after

all, pained by the same dumb longings.

"I try to say what I don't know

how to say, but of course I can't

get much of it down at all."

By now I was sweating bullets.

"I don't want my poems to be hard,

unless the truth is, if there is

a truth." Silence hung in the hall

like a heavy fabric. My own

head ached. "Sir," he yelled. "Thank you. Sir."

Anonymous submission.


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