Authors and Poets
Authors and Poets

Photos used with permission from the Academy of American Poets

Last updated:
April 19, 2018
Lori M. Cameron, editor

Diminishing Return – Bob Griffin

Fall 1998, vol. 2, no. 2

Oil boated lazily on the surface of the water,
A color kaleidoscope in the midday sun,
And dad fished. Thin as the reeds of Lenten holy crosses,
His tousled tweeds hung in anarchy around him.
Kindred to the silent sea he trolled in now, a life disguised:
Once primeval youth, movement-wild, but here unrippled moat,
Flotsam floating about his boots,
Stale rubbish in the shoreline thatches.
I heard his lips make a smacking sound
As he settled himself down into the gray caisson of his loneliness,
Rod in hand and spectral voices in his head.

I had come home to watch his dying and winced at what I saw,
His chest a xylophone of bones extruding
From bog-colored skin, his neck a sack of sag.
That huge sadness that was always most of him would soon ebb away,
Joined by morbid memories of much mischief, madness and unrest,
Still too well written in his eyes.
There would be no more furrowing inside women of the eve,
No more flowers nodding to one another in kitchen violet vases.
For me, there was no narcosis to his dying; storms squalled in my heart
As he spat his phlegm into the sand
While I wound my way drunkenly among the dunes.

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