Poet's Choice

By Mary Karr
Sunday, October 26, 2008

Real life has enough horror without adding ghouls and ghosts to the mix. Here's a scary fact you'll want to know about Paul Guest: At the age of 12, he was permanently paralyzed in a bike accident. That's the least interesting aspect of his work, but it did produce this startler, "User's Guide to Physical Debilitation," from a forthcoming book of his poems:

Should the painful condition of irreversible paralysis

last longer than forever or at least until

your death by bowling ball or illegal lawn dart

or the culture of death, which really has it out

for whoever has seen better days

but still enjoys bruising marathons of bird watching,

you, or your beleaguered caregiver

stirring dark witch's brews of resentment

inside what had been her happy life,

should turn to page seven where you can learn,

assuming higher cognitive functions

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