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Monday, March 23, 2009


by William Aarnes

Chagrined is how the news clip catches Kathleen
right behind me at my hearing--loyal disappointment.
They've had the sense to air my reading
of the passage I'd revised the most: " . . . miscalculated . . .
ignored the misgivings of my staff . . . misinterpreted . . .
unknowingly misinformed and thus misadvised . . .
then mishandled . . . ." They show the Senator
defending my honesty, only to have me respond,
"I'm sorry, sir, but you'll agree integrity
can't excuse or correct my bungling." They switch
to a story on the hurricane off the East Coast--
same name as mine, though not my worry,
nobody's error. Then a commercial for pain relief.

"Good job," my daughter assures me. My son nods.
They slouch on either side of me, both as far away
as knowing better takes them. What is good
is my parents are dead--they'd crowd me,
aware how commiseration castigates.

Kathleen keeps trying--tonight chicken piquant,
though I can't eat. I couldn't make love
if she wanted.
                                   Another man might shoot himself--
but tomorrow I'll be on the front page,
maybe the headline. I've scheduled interviews
where I'll elaborate on how I'm to blame.

Then other things will come--turning down the reporter
who'll offer to help with a book ("a cautionary tale,"
she'll call it), agreeing to the divorce, selling
this house, looking for less mistaken work.

William Aarnes’s first book, Learning to Dance, was published in 1991 by Ninety-Six Press, which also published his second collection, Predicaments, in 2001. His first published poem appeared in FIELD in 1969. Over the years he has had poems in such magazines as The American Scholar, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Measure, Bateau, The Potomac Review and Poetry.