First poems, age 11, scribbled on the inside jacket of my school notebook.  Our rural community school averaging about 12 students per class in combination grades was to be shut down and consolidated with a larger, comparatively urban system—hence my foreboding.  But the feeling was probably always on pilot light from the beginning.  Little wonder I became a big fan of Poe in high school, though without the opium and child bride.  He lost me with maturity.  But his poem “Alone”—at least the first 8 lines—still holds a recurring poignancy for me.


61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67
they were the years of joy
for every girl and boy
but now we are doomed
in an unmarked tomb
away from those years
of joy.


6 years ago
was no grief
6 years ago
we ate good beef
6 years ago
we were in cheer
7 years later we’re in fear
of dying

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