4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Financial Advice to Poets

Plus three more by Joseph S. Salemi

Military Funeral

  • The muffled roll of drums, the folded flag;
  • Three volleys from bolt-actions, sharp and crisp;
  • The clink of cartridge casings, and a wisp
  • Of bluish smoke. Then Taps begins its drag
  • Of lengthened notes — a melismatic wail
  • That seems to last forever. Next the scrape
  • Of boots as guardsmen exit, while black crepe
  • Billows beside the bier, an unlashed sail
  • Loose in autumnal breeze. The moment hits
  • The widow, whose composure starts to break.
  • She cannot hold back sobs; her shoulders shake.
  • Except for her, the grief-numbed family sits
  • As if held in suspended animation,
  • Deaf to the murmured “…from a grateful nation.”

Kissing Cousin

  • I see her every two years, usually
  • When someone dies or marries. And we kiss
  • As if we were old lovers, passionately,
  • Just as a silly spoof. She says I miss
  • These hot encounters! Prudish maiden aunts
  • Are duly scandalized, and start to talk.
  • I say Now ladies, I’ve kept on my pants —
  • When they come off, you’ve got the right to squawk.
  • The family laughs, we smile, the joke is done —
  • The business that’s at hand takes our attention.
  • At dinner, while conversing with her son,
  • I learn that there’s a knot of fierce dissension
  • Between her and her husband. And my blood
  • Rises like rebel rivers in full flood.

The Final Checkmate

  • No strategy with chessmen
  • (Deploy them how you will)
  • Can stop the Final Checkmate as
  • He zeroes in to kill.
  • Your knights and rooks and bishops,
  • Your pawns in rank and file —
  • Not one of them can hold him back,
  • Nor all your force and guile
  • Can stop the Final Checkmate
  • From clearing off the board,
  • And finding you alone before
  • His unrelenting sword.
  • You sidestep to a corner,
  • You zigzag left and right —
  • You try to hold a candle to
  • The fast-descending night,
  • But Final Checkmate’s steady
  • In his approaching tread.
  • He leaves no loophole for escape —
  • Your king is trapped and dead.

Financial Advice to Poets

  • A poet is a silly sod
  • If he thinks he’ll earn a wad
  • Of money from his verse transcendent —
  • You’d make more as a john attendant.
  • This has been the decree of Fates
  • From Homer up to Butler Yeats:
  • Obscurity and empty purses
  • Shall dog poor fools who write in verses.
  • You only turn this trade to bucks
  • By teaching it to dumber schmucks.

Joseph S. Salemi teaches in the Department of Classical Languages at Hunter College, C.U.N.Y. He has published seven books of poetry, the latest of which is Steel Masks (White Violet Press, 2013). His poems, essays, translations, and scholarly articles have appeared in over 100 publications worldwide. He is the editor of the poetry magazine TRINACRIA and a regular monthly columnist for The Pennsylvania Review, an online literary journal.

Sponsored
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Wagner, Liszt, and Brahms in Escondido

Payare levitates for the victory
Next Article

San Diego in books - PSA crash, WWII doubles the town, Oak Tree Canyon, Led Zeppelin

The Secrets of Harry Bright, Mirror at the End of the Road, Brown Hills, Hammer of the Gods, "Port of Navy Wives"

Military Funeral

  • The muffled roll of drums, the folded flag;
  • Three volleys from bolt-actions, sharp and crisp;
  • The clink of cartridge casings, and a wisp
  • Of bluish smoke. Then Taps begins its drag
  • Of lengthened notes — a melismatic wail
  • That seems to last forever. Next the scrape
  • Of boots as guardsmen exit, while black crepe
  • Billows beside the bier, an unlashed sail
  • Loose in autumnal breeze. The moment hits
  • The widow, whose composure starts to break.
  • She cannot hold back sobs; her shoulders shake.
  • Except for her, the grief-numbed family sits
  • As if held in suspended animation,
  • Deaf to the murmured “…from a grateful nation.”

Kissing Cousin

  • I see her every two years, usually
  • When someone dies or marries. And we kiss
  • As if we were old lovers, passionately,
  • Just as a silly spoof. She says I miss
  • These hot encounters! Prudish maiden aunts
  • Are duly scandalized, and start to talk.
  • I say Now ladies, I’ve kept on my pants —
  • When they come off, you’ve got the right to squawk.
  • The family laughs, we smile, the joke is done —
  • The business that’s at hand takes our attention.
  • At dinner, while conversing with her son,
  • I learn that there’s a knot of fierce dissension
  • Between her and her husband. And my blood
  • Rises like rebel rivers in full flood.

The Final Checkmate

  • No strategy with chessmen
  • (Deploy them how you will)
  • Can stop the Final Checkmate as
  • He zeroes in to kill.
  • Your knights and rooks and bishops,
  • Your pawns in rank and file —
  • Not one of them can hold him back,
  • Nor all your force and guile
  • Can stop the Final Checkmate
  • From clearing off the board,
  • And finding you alone before
  • His unrelenting sword.
  • You sidestep to a corner,
  • You zigzag left and right —
  • You try to hold a candle to
  • The fast-descending night,
  • But Final Checkmate’s steady
  • In his approaching tread.
  • He leaves no loophole for escape —
  • Your king is trapped and dead.

Financial Advice to Poets

  • A poet is a silly sod
  • If he thinks he’ll earn a wad
  • Of money from his verse transcendent —
  • You’d make more as a john attendant.
  • This has been the decree of Fates
  • From Homer up to Butler Yeats:
  • Obscurity and empty purses
  • Shall dog poor fools who write in verses.
  • You only turn this trade to bucks
  • By teaching it to dumber schmucks.

Joseph S. Salemi teaches in the Department of Classical Languages at Hunter College, C.U.N.Y. He has published seven books of poetry, the latest of which is Steel Masks (White Violet Press, 2013). His poems, essays, translations, and scholarly articles have appeared in over 100 publications worldwide. He is the editor of the poetry magazine TRINACRIA and a regular monthly columnist for The Pennsylvania Review, an online literary journal.

Sponsored
Sponsored
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Tijuana gas station clerk stiffed, dies on El Pacifico busy street

Did not follow protocol, says Arco
Next Article

San Diego in books - PSA crash, WWII doubles the town, Oak Tree Canyon, Led Zeppelin

The Secrets of Harry Bright, Mirror at the End of the Road, Brown Hills, Hammer of the Gods, "Port of Navy Wives"
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close