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Anything But the Case

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Do me my elegy now, or I'll scrawl the thing
I scrawl as you're going or screw in a ball when you're gone,
Or you and I write unaware in each other's tongue
That you or I ever set foot . . . Or do what our son
And/or little daughter got done: got our brilliant names
Pricily grooved in marble by one skilled
In times of loss; dream iridescent dreams
It's that first Saturday. Let this hour be filled
With anything but the case, so that Time the clerk
Goes panting in horror from gremlin to error to glitch
And his screen is stripes and he knows he saved his work
In one of a billion files but fuck knows which,
And he lets us alone or, at worst, as we tiptoe by,
Feels we're familiar, can't for the world say why.

Source: Poetry (June 2008)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

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Anything But the Case

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  • Born in England to Welsh parents, Glyn Maxwell was educated at Oxford University and Boston University, where he studied both poetry and theater with Derek Walcott. This simultaneous training in two disciplines has enabled him to create innovative work across genres. Maxwell has written numerous verse plays as well as long narrative poems. The Sugar Mile (2005), a verse narrative set in a Manhattan bar a few days before September 11, 2001, weaves together several voices and stories exploring the nature of fate. Time’s Fool: A Tale in Verse (2000) updates the Flying Dutchman story in 400 pages of strict terza rima. Explaining his reason for choosing such a challenging rhyme structure, Maxwell said in an interview for The Atlantic, “Terza rima approximates to thought, or the place where two elements—thought and light—connect. The first line of a terza rima is already an echo—it’s an echo of the middle line...

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