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Poem of the week for May 29

By Paul T. Hogan

The back-handed trick done: I wake up

and am sixty; nothing in my head of anything 

gone before. I would never 

have my room like this I think, 

rubbing sight into eyes. And what is my work? 

I roll over and wake up again 

sixty, heart wobbling beats 

within me, mind furiously seeking 

connections: What have I done? 

It’s magic after all, this ability to speak. 

Magic to remember. If I sleep again 

I’ll wake up thirty, or eighteen, whisky 

in my voice, certain of my place 

and all the time I need to prove it. 

But sleep is magic, too, and this spell 

that spins me, open-eyed and back, still 

leaves me sixty, conjuring a life 

behind me that is nonetheless 

behind me, even if revisable 

with an easy incantation, powerful 

in just the way magic is as it packs itself back up 

in worn flowerprint carpetbags, and floats, 

dreamlike, away; off in swirls of breath, 

late sun and dry leaves. 

Contributor’s Note: PAUL T. HOGAN is the author of two collections of poetry: “Points of Departures: Poems” (White Pine Press, 2008) and “Inventories” (BlazeVox Books, 2012). A former Navy veteran and the recipient of the David Gray Fellowship in Poetry at the University at Buffalo under the late Robert Creeley, he has worked for and consulted with a variety of nonprofit organizations in the arts, adult education, research, community health and health care. He is currently the executive vice president of the John R. Oishei Foundation, where he has worked since 2001.