Poet's Choice

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By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, September 2, 2007

James Hoch's poems approach subjects such as grief, loss and violation in a way that feels freshly inspired by reality. For example, instead of resorting to the literary or cinematic clich?s of a deathbed scene, he manages to express the limited but distinct good of pain-killing medication: that island of practical comfort, surrounded by dread and sorrow, of common experience:

Morphine

The man lying in bed is dying

from cancer, flecks of bone

flow like ice in his blood.

Outside it's snowing,

lightly in the street, white petals

from a pear tree.

Everything is starting

to feel immense. His children,

like four pylons,

quietly resemble each other.

They pull at glasses


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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