Men at My Father’s Funeral

By William Matthews 1942–1997 William Matthews
The ones his age who shook my hand   
on their way out sent fear along   
my arm like heroin. These weren’t   
men mute about their feelings,
or what’s a body language for?

And I, the glib one, who’d stood
with my back to my father’s body
and praised the heart that attacked him?   
I’d made my stab at elegy,
the flesh made word: the very spit

in my mouth was sour with ruth
and eloquence. What could be worse?   
Silence, the anthem of my father’s   
new country. And thus this babble,   
like a dial tone, from our bodies.

William Matthews, “Men at My Father’s Funeral” from Time and Money: New Poems. Copyright © 1995 by William Matthews. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.

Source: Time and Money: New Poems (1995)

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Poet William Matthews 1942–1997

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Death, Youth, Living, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 William  Matthews

Biography

William Matthews's poetry has earned him a reputation as a master of well-turned phrases, wise sayings, and rich metaphors. Much of Matthews's poetry explores the themes of life cycles, the passage of time, and the nature of human consciousness. In another type of poem, he focuses on his particular enthusiasms: jazz music, basketball, and his children. His early writing was free-form and epigrammatic. As his career has . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Death, Youth, Living, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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