Thursday, February 17, 2011


     Never much went in for poetry.  Wasn't quite narrative enough for me.  But my family seems to have inadvertently launched a sustained campaign of poetry appreciation and, by God, I'm starting to appreciate it.  My favorites are the ones that distill a specific message with unusual humor, poignancy and power without ever quite coming out and stating it.  Poetry seems to have the market cornered on this effect (when done well, of course).  So here, then, is the best one I've come across thus far.  

by George Bilgere

A heavy snow, and men my age
all over the city
are having heart attacks in their driveways,

dropping their nice new shovels
with the ergonomic handles
that finally did them no good.

Gray-headed men who meant no harm,
who abided by the rules and worked hard
for modest rewards, are slipping

softly from their mortgages,
falling out of their marriages.
How gracefully they swoon—

that lovely, old-fashioned word—
from dinner parties, grandkids,
vacations in Florida.

They should have known better
than to shovel snow at their age.
If only they’d heeded

the sensible advice of their wives
and hired a snow-removal service.
But there’s more to life

than merely being sensible. Sometimes
a man must take up his shovel
and head out alone into the snow.

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