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« Sir Larry: an astrological profile [by David Lehman] | Main | Some other time. . . »

May 23, 2021


Thank you, Michael, and Terence.
Brutal is right. I'm sorry for the pain but grateful for the hard-won knowledge /language.

This poem is the way to end all wars, which always begin in the kitchen. And also what a powerful story of repentance.

Nice poem Michael, I think we young men have always had this fight. The only time I tried was on a deer hunting trip in the Nem Mexico mountains when I was a teen. With the flow of alcohol intake you think you have liquid courage, NOT!

Jack: Thanks for your comment.

Moving and candid.

It's called "corporal punishment," but I never got a physical beating from anyone under the rank of "general," as in "this beating will be a general reminder of what not to do again." If you got enough of these "general" beatings, especially if delivered capriciously, you never fully recover. That's why the equally cruel schoolyard game of "made ya flinch" is usually followed by two strong punches to the upper arm. For more on how generational anger is handed down, reread James Joyce's cauterizing short story "Counterparts" in THE DUBLINERS. Or, to stick more strictly with verse, reread Robert Hayden's brilliant poem "The Whipping." Michael O'Keefe's own poem is vivid and intense, using art to limn familial war, and ends in an inchoate, fragile ceasefire hopefully leading to prolonged "peace." The mission of the wounded or scarred is to break the chain of flash-anger violence. Kudos, Michael, on giving us this unsparing, deeply moving poem.

Alas, I should have removed "THE" from "THE DUBLINERS." James Joyce would want me to be more fastidious with his book titles.

Earle---thanks for that astute response.

Poems serve to bring back memories. Wish this one hadn't, but nonetheless glad I read it, glad that it exists in the world.

I had to hold a chair over my head for more than several minutes as punishment for whatever crime a second grader inflicts on the world. It's that kids are at the mercy of grown-ups who have socio-emotional issues they swear they don't have.

great poem, great comments, great choice of artwork...did I say great poem, michael...

Beautiful and brutal poem. I hope the brothers reconciled eventually.

Always loved your role in "The Great Santini" even without knowing you're a poet!

When Jesus said to love your enemies, I have thought that just meant don't do to them what they do you you. Perhaps this poem movingly and beautifully rewords that same lesson.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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