W.F. Lantry


Listening to an Old Poet

I believe he knew
perfectly well
there were bombs falling
as he wrote

but he didn't care.
I believe he knew
that during the time
it took to compose
each line, a child
died alone
in another hemisphere.

And as he moved his pen
from one stanza to begin
the next, he knew
a man or woman's heart
stopped beating
a few blocks away,
or the breathing ceased,
the weary chest
no longer rising
and falling like the rhythms
of his lines.

He had an interest
in all these,
an indirect profit,
but more than that
he decided no matter
what he did, the bombs
would keep on falling,
the vain mouth would open
to receive no grain,
the heart would still,
the lungs empty.

And so he wrote
knowing that soon enough
he would be unable to move
from stanza to stanza
that the pen would soon fall
from his hand.

W.F. Lantry received his Licence and Ma├«trise from the Universit├ę de Nice, M.A. in English from Boston University and Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. He is the recipient of the University of Montana CutBank 2010 Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry and the Paris/Atlantic Young Writers Award. His work has appeared in Gulf Coast, Umbrella, New Verse News, Unsplendid and The Wallace Stevens Journal. He currently serves as the Director of Academic Technology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

(author retains copyright)