Drizzle

By William Matthews 1942–1997 William Matthews
Baudelaire: "The dead, the poor dead, have their bad hours."
But the dead have no watches, no grief and no hours.

At first not smoking took all my time: I did it
a little by little and hour by hour.

   Per diem. Pro bono. Cui bono? Pro rata.
But the poor use English. Off and on. By the hour.

   "I'm sorry but we'll have to stop now." There tick but
fifty minutes in the psychoanalytic hour.

Vengeance is mine, yours, his or hers, ours, yours again
(you-all's this time), and then (yikes!) theirs. I prefer ours.

Twenty minutes fleeing phantoms at full tilt and then
the cat coils herself like a quoit and sleeps for hours.

Source: Poetry (August 1998).

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This poem originally appeared in the August 1998 issue of Poetry magazine

August 1998
 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 Living, Death, Mythology & Folklore, Ghosts & the Supernatural

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Ghazal

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