Paul Simon
  • Paul Simon
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  • Such a brave generation.
  • We marched onto the streets
  • in our T-shirts and jeans, holding
  • the hand of the stranger next to us
  • with a trust I can’t summon now,
  • our voices raised in song.
  • Our rooms were lit by candlelight,
  • wax dripping onto the table, then
  • onto the floor, leaving dusty
  • starbursts we would pop off
  • with the edge of a butter knife
  • when it was time to move.
  • But before we packed and drove
  • into the middle of our lives
  • we watched the leaves outside
  • the window shift in the wind
  • and listened to Paul Simon,
  • his cindery voice, then fell back
  • into our solitude, leveled our eyes
  • on the American horizon
  • that promised us everything
  • and knew it was never true:
  • smoke and blinders, insubstantial
  • as fingerprints on glass.
  • It isn’t easy to give up hope,
  • to escape a dream. We shed
  • our clothes and cut our hair,
  • our former beauty piled at our feet.
  • And still the music lived inside us,
  • whole worlds unmaking us
  • in the dark so that sleeping and waking
  • we heard the train’s distant whistle,
  • steel trestles shivering
  • across the land that was still ours
  • in our bones and hearts, its lone headlamp
  • searching the weedy stockyards,
  • the damp, gray rag of fog.

Dorianne Laux, a greatly admired American poet, is Poet in Residence at North Carolina State University and also teaches for the Pacific University low residency MFA program in Oregon. Where Poe bartends. She is married to the poet Joe Millar. “Paul Simon” was previously published in Two Weeks: A Digital Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and in the current issue of Serving House Journal. It is reprinted by permission.

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