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A tribute to Galway Kinnell from Dan Carpenter

Kinnell at Butler U., Feb. 6, 1989
by Dan Carpenter

Perfect poet’s presence     Galway
limp white dress shirt
dull brown hair finger-combed raking his brow
heavy hands and gentle voice
a seamy-faced Gus Hall drunk on angels

I drink in his beauty for free
in a lecture hall packed with lit students under duress
          signed in     penned
and I contemplate the abstract and the concrete
along a straight diagonal line –
          at the far end Kinnell      pawing his glasses
          singing of swifts and frogs rescued
          when one has been a long time alone . . .
          at the near end     a row ahead of me
          within a hand’s reach
          khakied knees raised to chin level
          black hair rich with brown hints     like chocolate cake
          a third his age half mine
          a freshly made human doing what Galway says a poem does
          doing the job to be
          leaving it to the apprehender
          to make of her a lover     daughter     moment

Galway    on course in the face of beauty
takes beauty he’s made and makes it new
while I     serene     sad     by no means covetous
weigh his words and weigh
her black untroubled eyes
her wide tan cheeks pure as infancy
her enormous pantaloons denying her figure like a nun’s habit
            all this I take in and feel poetry      its ache

Bio: Dan Carpenter is a freelance writer and former newspaper staffer, living in Indianapolis. He has published poems in Flying Island, Poetry East, Illuminations, Pearl, Xavier Review, Southern Indiana Review, Maize, Tipton Poetry Journal and other journals.