Poetry 2012 / Volume 43

Things We Have Seen Before — Jeffrey N. Johnson

His face hidden by newsprint, smoke rising,
slow methodical turning of the pages.
Sitting at his feet, I was struck by the largeness
of his shoes and my smallness before him.

Headlines read of Nixon’s pardon and
Patty Hearst’s arrest, but I could not read them
until my grandfather was done with the paper.
For eighty years he read the news every day

in his methodical way, Marlboro in hand,
page-by-page, section-by-section uninterrupted,
the paper refolded and reassembled to its press
condition by his ink stained fingers.

I once made the mistake of taking the Sports
before he’d gotten so far. Chastised for breaking his rhythm,
he reinserted section C into its proper
place and went about his morning ritual.

He might have begun when Bull Moose
was spoiling Taft’s party, though more likely
interested in how the Red Sox won the
Series in eight over the Giants.

Beyond headlines were the trivial and common;
another tired revival of Our Town at the State,
a shooting in front of the five and dime,
the steady rise of Philip Morris stock.

I wonder of his thoughts if he were alive today.
Steroid abuse in place of a rigged World Series,
Twin Towers in place of Pearl Harbor,
market crash in place of market crash.

Again I feel very small at his very large feet.
On television the towers burn like two cigarettes
lit for a friend. He lights his own, settles
in his chair and turns the page.

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One thought on “Things We Have Seen Before — Jeffrey N. Johnson

  1. Pingback: Current Issue: Volume 43, Number 1 — Poetry Issue, Fall 2012 | Coe Review

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