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Mitch Sisskind - Correspondent at Large

Force Majeure (by Mitch Sisskind)

Professor Koch said, 'We know the story
'Where the guy wakes up and he's turned
'Into a bug, right? Now write a story where
'The guy turns into a beautiful woman.'
He was always talking about beautiful women.
Very well. Anomaly Englehardt spoke up,
A kid recognized as a universal genius who
In class always kept one hand over his mouth.
Anomaly Englehardt said, 'Concepts of ratio
'First appeared in ancient India as attempts
'To numerically express the ideal proportions of
'A beautiful woman's physiognomy, i.e. her face.'
Then Mar Knee spoke. Mar Knee always kept 
One eye closed and most often the left eye.
Mar Knee said, 'In The Book of the Courtier
'Castiglione imagines a conversation between 
'A man and two beautiful women but one more
'Beautiful than the other and Castiglione relates
'How the man flatters the more beautiful woman
'Without at all offending the less beautiful one.'
Then I spoke. 'Somewhere Byron remarks 
'That a boy should see only beautiful women
'Until he's twelve years old,' I blurted out. 
In those days I ordinarily stood on one foot.
'But what about when the boy turns thirteen?'
Inquired Anomaly Englehardt with his droll
Intonation to which Mar Knee responded,
'Then we must simply do the best we can.'
'Haha, mes élèves,' Professor Koch laughed,
'Class dismissed. Go out into the world and
'Good luck to you.' He had a slight stammer
Mostly on the letter G or on the letter M.
Later on College Walk I ran into a grad student
I knew slightly, an ardent Italian communist.  
A beautiful woman walked by and he sneered,
'Look at her. All she wants is a prick.'

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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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