Ernest Hemingway, 1961

When the sun comes early
through eastern windows
and a single horsefly buzzsaws the air
it is then I rise from bed
my dreams of amputation, of teeth lost,
cloaked in the amnesia of another day
overwhelmed with trivia.

We make our own rules and lose by them.
This morning after a breakfast of coffee
and ice water I walk to the corner
feeling my liver dissolve in a
cacophony of stale beer and bad whiskey.
June drips a melody sweet as rose water
and the town wakes slowly.

These things are substance, Mary, not prelude.
Only what moves us has meaning.
The rest is lost in a weed-choked yard
or the gutter with brown cigarette butts,
orange peels, used condoms.
When words fail, the hammer drops.
Living can never be its own excuse.

I have carried this gun in dreams:
quiet ones in which a wounded animal
is given peace by the hunter's grace.
Now hunter and animal, I find myself
precipitating an act gentle as June rain.
and in this dazzling pellet rain
I'll sing the best of all men's songs.

Take care, Mary, of the cats. Smile
at those who call me coward.
These last weeks so free of conflict
are quit also of energy and force.
I am become abstract as a moveable feast,
My life arbitrary, capricious as a poem of Pound's.
Only the gun gives me substance
this trigger my clearest, most careful line.

"Ernest Hemingway-1961" © copyright by Michael Hogan, 1978, 1988.
Reprinted from Making Our Own Rules (Greenfield Review Press, 1989.)