Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Day Short

Pup, a sweet and placid Irish Wolfhound, and the Shuttleworths, Kate, Ciara, Maura, and Red: west of Fairbury, Nebraska, in August of 1981.



A Day Short

A day short of being thirty-six,
I locate another fatty tumor on the Wolfhound.
Tomorrow, a time of presents I've seen already:
a mended jacket, framed snapshots of my girls,
a bottle of Power's Irish Whiskey.  A day
of applecake, Sunday newspapers, a quiet
walk with the old dog.  Killing chickens today
with a friend, we talked of cobblers and Brueghel.
It is the middle of a simple life lost from
baseball.  I carry a pen and notebook,
consider the milkweed by the lake, wonder if
Doc Holliday truly shot a tumor off his dog's leg.
A day short of being thirty-six, I run two miles
to feel the inflamed chest cartilage, to feel
how my knees hurt.  My countrymen build saloons,
churches, war planes.  My countrymen, let's bring
back the cobbler, the grizzly, girls who wear
plaid shirts in redwood forests.  Whiskey-breathed,
I sing with Kate and my girls, Good Ole Boys Like Me,
sing Hank Jr. and Waylon, sing the moldering
color of October prairie.  I'm just a day short.


This poem first appeared in The Ontario Review (Number 15, Fall-Winter 1981-82), edited by Raymond J. Smith and Joyce Carol Oates.

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