Fall 2008 • Vol. XXX No. 4 Poetry |

The Distinguished Thing

Here it is at last, the distinguished thing.             — Henry James It needn't start with reading —Though it does—but with an opening So sweet and self-sustaining that it lasts forever, A chapter out of all proportion to its years. Then come those long, perplexing middle parts I still can't figure out, years that in retrospect Went by so quickly that I find myself astonished To see where I am now, on a February day In my sixty-second year, watching some specks of light Float before my eyes like small bright snowflakes, And then disappear. The floating life is next, An infinite vacation where the days repeat themselves As in the movie Groundhog Day, and time has lost its meaning. What did they mean, the ones who cautioned us to wait For all the wishes from the opening to be granted at the end? Bent over a computer in a study filled with catalogs and magazines, My life is fine, though not the life I'd wanted or imagined, For instead

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John Koethe’s The Swimmer, has just been published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. His previous books include North Point North: New and Selected (2002), Ninety-Fifth Street (2009), which received the Lenore Marshall Award, and ROTC Kills (2012).

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Walking Backwards

By John Koethe

Here it is at last, the distinguished thing.             — Henry James It needn't start with reading —Though it does—but with an opening So sweet and self-sustaining that it lasts forever, […]

Thinking about Death

By John Koethe

Here it is at last, the distinguished thing.             — Henry James It needn't start with reading —Though it does—but with an opening So sweet and self-sustaining that it lasts forever, […]

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