Poem of the Week

This week’s poem shows a very intimate view of one person’s experience of JFK’s assassination.

Where I Was

I was in Princeton of all
Place. My ninth grade class
Was there on a field trip: the usual
Shepherding from edifice
to edifice — a lot of gray
Stone — winding up, though,
With something a little out of the way:
The opportunity to view
A classic three-acter
At the U’s own theater.

The play I don’t remember much
About: your basic exercise
In wigs and bodices and such.
The memorable thing was
The curtain call. How the one
Coming out was a grim guy
In tweed and tie. How the lone
Lifting of his palm by
Itself extinguished the applause.
How he had “terrible news”–

But not the news I feared. Not
Where to go. Not how
To get there. Not what
To Do when you got there — go
Sit against a wall, put
Your head down, clasp your hands
Behind your head, you might shut
Your eyes in case the world ends —
None of that. Maybe he
Was finding it decidedly

Hard to get the words out,
But what the words amounted to
Wasn’t the worst thing: not
Anything that had to do
With going up in a solar hell,
But rather with the President,
A motorcade, a hospital —
With how the evident extent
Of anybody’s sudden death
Was elsewhere and over with.

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