(A tribute to Louise Glueck)
I know that vacant lots and junk were all
You had for playground in this fetid slum,
Where you were often marked for life by brawl
And sin to which the strongest might succumb.
I know your father hurt your self-esteem,
Home drunk and giftless on a holiday;
And I’m aware both parents smirked at dreams
That art or verse could match beautician’s pay.
I know that tragedy has been your lot:
A loved one lost or lovers soon departed,
And thoughtless editors who seem to plot
To see how they can hurt the tender-hearted.
But blatant search for pity enervates,
And those who mine their youthful misery
To write good verse are focusing on states
That should mean more than “I” and “MY” and “ME.”
All meaning can’t be found in grief and grime;
One’s own travail are not a paradigm.