James Merrill

(3 March 1926 – 6 February 1995 / New York City, New York)

Manos Karastefanes - Poem by James Merrill

Death took my father.
The same year (I was twelve)
Thanási's mother taught me
Heaven and hell.

None of my army buddies
Called me by name—
Just 'Styles' or 'Fashion Plate'.
One friend I had, my body,

And, evenings at the gym
Contending with another,
Used it to isolate
Myself from him.

The doctor saved my knee.
You came to the clinic
Bringing War and Peace,
Better than any movie.

Why are you smiling?
I fought fair, I fought well,
Not hurting my opponent,
To win this black belt.

Why are you silent?
I've brought you a white cheese
From my island, and the sea's
Voice in a shell.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, May 9, 2012

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