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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ode to a Man I Never Met

For Daniel Thompson

". . . when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. . ." - John Donne, Meditation 17

by Kevin E. Cleary

I feel like a fraud
as I sit with pen in hand
or mouse and keyboard,

Wielding these things
has made me feel this way
before, but not like this.

For a man I never met
stands over my shoulder,
or behind me and in-front,

You're mixing metaphors,
he chides, and you stole
that from Simon and Garfunkel.

No, I insist, I'm making reference
to John Donne's Meditation 17,
like Paul Simon did
in "I am a Rock."

Yes, he says, but I know
you only ever read Donne
because of Simon.

He gives me this confident smile,
like my Grandma when she's trying
to annoy me, but is acting oblivious.

He has that same child-like and Confucian
wisdom about him, that perfect
mixture of simultaneous calm and passion.

You can go with the Santa comparison,
he tells me, I don't mind. That same
irritating and amusing and calming smile.

Get thee behind me inner Daniel!
You're worse than my inner mother,
and besides I wasn't even trying
to write a poem.

I'm joking with his voice in my head
so I feel less crazy when I reason with others
True, he calmly nods before taking his leave.

As imaginary, ethereal inner Daniel departs,
he whispers two pieces of advice:

Rarely let your left brain know
what your right brain is thinking,

and great things can happen if
you keep your heart and imagination
on the same page.


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