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Minor Poet

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His last composed poem, "Over My Head,"
closes with the evening tide
coming in as the light fails over Brighton Beach.

In the years of The Great Plague,
he lived with his mother and brother
and wrote the Elegies that remain unpublished,

under the eaves in an unfinished room above
his mother's late-night television vigil.
He wrote to a ghostly laugh-track

in the night. Though he cut out and saved
lurid, five-color magazine pictures
of The South Pacific, The Aegean; though

he hoped for a winter crossing by steamer
until his final weakness set in,
underneath he was a city boy

whose poems drifted like a dinghy
in small inlets—Gravesend, Rockaway—
out too far for safety, in sight of land.

Source: Poetry (Poetry Foundation, 2002)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2002 issue of Poetry magazine

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Minor Poet

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