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Mitch Sisskind - Correspondent at Large

Before Kennedy (by Mitch Sisskind)


Each Saturday Lou's four hour pinochle
Game now in its thirtieth-first year,
Pinochle again on Monday nights
And on Fridays the family card games,
Men and women at separate tables.

To the downtown public library
I bore my briefcase after school
In Eisenhower’s last years to read
Old newspapers: WAR the full page
Headline of 1917 and again in 1941.

Here and there bent over tables
In the gloomy main reading room
Men wiping their eyes, coughing,
Blowing their noses until limping
Urgently to the awful bathroom.

These men, were they younger
Than Lou I found myself asking.
I saw his steps shortening until
He died like the silver dot on the
Turned-off television screen.





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Radio

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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