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Thinking about the Death of John Updike

Listen to "Thinking about the Death of John Updike"
Read by Daniel Thomas Moran

Out there in the world,
some brittle oak leaves
have survived the worst of it.
They cling, like the rest of us,
beset and shivering on
threads in March’s wind.

The sun barely changes,
traipsing as it does, from
south to north and
then to south again.
And the blueness of the sky?
Well, what has not already
been well said about that?

I am listening
to the punk squelching
of Patti Smith, wriggling
in her tender agonies,
on a filthy stage on
The Bowery thirty-four
long years ago.

The heat has kicked on, and
a manufactured comfort
swirls up from the registers.
It is not the wind moving
outside that I think I hear.

In the slick pages
of the newest New Yorker,
something has pushed
up through the hard soil.
And I find myself living
the dying of John Updike.

The last of his poems have
lain down before me,
heads reclined into the
posed configuration of
a treacherous peace,
their toes pointed upward
toward ambiguous perpetuity.

I would have to say that
he was not so much unlike
any of us, we who have been
fated to finally become
the likeness of one another.

We believe what we
cannot understand and,
we know that we will go,
just as we came:
alone, wondering, and
empty handed.


Daniel Thomas Moran



"The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood-shed with them."

-Henry David Thoreau


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