Poet Laureate at Ninety Five

The new poet laureate is ninety five
he’s been working on his demons
for a long long time

Six weeks before the poet was born
his father burns his demons out
by drinking carbolic acid in the park

Mother burns father’s pictures
forbids mention of his name

Young Stanley finds one in the attic
and asks about the man

She tears the picture to shreds
without a word, and slaps him hard
six decades later he still felt the sting

Bright boy gets scholarship to Harvard
Okay but forget about teaching classes
these were not the days when a Jewish boy
could teach their ivy league asses

Marries a poet, moves to honeymoon farm
she disappears, never to be heard from again

The new poet laureate has had plenty of pain
each day he wakes as a poet, not a man of ninety five
still seeing everything new – still glad to be alive

Stanley Kunitz, Poet Laureate, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Teacher and Gardener (July 1905 – May 2006)

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