By the sea

I want it so
the dead are blind. Blind the way
Easter comfort washes a stick-dry corpse, passion
as misplaced as that derailed train (Ann Arbor, MI,
1947) that ended up in a church, in
a school room, in my parent’s bedroom, can’t
remember which. What’s happening
to my memory? My
first dog’s name? The
ladder joke?
      Blind as in
the rage our boss manifests when he can’t
find some fool to work for a dollar, his
third world mindset hopelessly irreconcilable
with our first. What
about those boys who were playing cards
on a tomb in a shit-infested seaside cemetery
in Rabat (Morocco) in 1963, they
probably would.
        Speaking of which: Valéry’s
Le Cimetière marin in Sète
that I visited in ’60, sitting for an hour or two
under a pine tree wondering if I’d ever have
the what-it-takes to write a cemetery
by the sea poem. Probably not, at seventy-three
I don’t like my chances. Which could be why
I want it so that the dead are blind
(& deaf as well, this poem as raucous
as the Arabic of those boys in Rabat).

Philip Hammial

Philip Hammial has had twenty-eight poetry collections published.

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