He stood in front of the class
in a more than half empty lecture hall
and leaned into the podium, almost smiling.
He was here, a real poet, half famous
by his own reckoning, totally so by ours
since he was rumpled, as a poet ought,
his sport coat tweedy and ill fitting.
Still we harbored some doubts,
for there was no telltale sign
of a fountain pen’s ink
on his fingers and his nails
looked fresh from a manicure.
But he gripped the podium, read
and only glanced down occasionally,
so he must be a real poet,
for he didn’t bend the fingers
as if always hovering over
a keyboard, waiting for inspiration.
When it’s time, i suppose
I’d like to go like my dog and cat,
slipping away as they were gently stroked.
It could be like that, there’s a chance
but I can’t count on it, no one can.
I never did try skydiving, too late, now
and so a failed or fouled chute won’t be my fate
and the closest I came to auto racing
was a weekend at Bondurant and my skill
limited my career to local road rallying
in college, and few die in under-powered Opels.
Maybe I’ll know my end is near, and maybe not
but it won’t be in a blaze of glory
and my ashes will sit on some mantle
because only those of the famous, like Richie Havens,
get spread from the plane over Woodstock.
But, then again, none of that
will be my problem, so screw it.