American Life in Poetry: Column 013
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Birthdays, especially those which mark the passage of a decade, are occasions not only for celebration, but for reflection. In "Turning Forty," Ohio poet Kevin Griffith conveys a confusion of sentiments. The speaker feels a sense of peace at forty, but recalls a more powerful, more confident time in his life.
At times it's like there is a small planet
inside me. And on this planet,
there are many small wars, yet none
big enough to make a real difference.
The major countries--mind and heart--have
called a truce for now. If this planet had a ruler,
no one remembers him well. All
decisions are made by committee.
Yet there are a few pictures of the old dictator--
how youthful he looked on his big horse,
how bright his eyes.
He was ready to conquer the world.
Reprinted from "Cooweescoowee, A Journal of Arts and Letters," by permission of the author, whose most recent book is "Paradise Refunded" (Backwaters Press, 1998). Poem copyright 2004 by Kevin Griffith. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.