Happy Birthday, Ernest Hemingway ( July 21, 1899 - July 2, 1961)
They puzzled you, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett...
their circular talk of one day seeing the Grand Canyon.
That was not your country, nor is the country I live in:
rock, sage, rattlesnake, rainless weeks and months.
It's precisely that broken and arid in the universities...
perhaps no change there: aged virgins prattling
against you, worry-eyed tweed men pleased
with their own self-battering. You never expected
to make friends in offices swollen with rancid custard.
Your words, still strong, most postmarked before my birth,
are tough to beat: you remain our Heavyweight Champ.
Trains no longer run on time, letter writing is email-bitched,
and the rich still announce forthcoming spousal splits
in expensive hotels surrounded by deep-green woods.
I imagine you forever homeward, a star we have
our lonesome eyes on, permanent as your novels.