What But Dignity in the Vigil

By STEPHEN HAVEN

The night nurse quibbling with the old GP:
The lobbied family becalmed around
Everything morphined: They more or less agree

But not when the coroner calks the door,
Their cargo embargoed, down to the last apple,
Scurvy in the hold. Realtors, creditors conjugate

The numbers of their deep harbors: Always room
To pay some more, foam from the ocean’s floor.
In this you’re meant to swing, hit perfectly

The backwalkover on the beam, high five
Your work colleagues, walk the dog 6 a.m.
As always, flag of your old repose,
That slit sail, that white rose.

 

Stephen Haven is the author of The Last Sacred Place in North America (2012, winner of the New American Press Poetry Prize). He has published two previous collections of poetry, Dust and Bread (2008, for which he was named Ohio Poet of the Year), and The Long Silence of the Mohawk Carpet Smokestack (2004). He directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Ashland University, in Ohio. He was twice a Fulbright Professor of American literature at universities in Beijing.

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What But Dignity in the Vigil

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