Poet's Choice

By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, February 17, 2008

Alan Shapiro's new book contains a remarkable section headed "from The Book of Last Thoughts." Each poem presents the dying thoughts of a different character in a form appropriate to that speaker. This one, for instance, is in rhyme:


I used to feel like a new man

After the day's first brew.

But then the new man I became

Would need a tall one too.

As would the new man he became,

And the new one after him,

And so on and so forth till the new men made

The dizzy room go dim.

And each one said, I'll be your muse,

I'll trade you song for beer.

He said, I'll be your salt lick, honey,

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