“But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, All losses are restor'd and sorrows end."

William Shakespeare

Edited and compiled by Robert Sward

Reading an Old Friend's Poems
by Barry Sparks

The wonderings and sweetness of this voice
bring to my thought
the scent of fine paper, fine linen,
shirt with a white collar
for the first time worn,
long evening with a new book,
dwelling over the pages.

But in its sayings
of loss, this voice
tastes blood on its teeth, tart taste of blood
that can neither be spit out nor swallowed.

In reverence for loveliness
my friend's word-music comes upon me
like air before rain: remember? ?

that freshness, cool, ultimately delicate;

though air so offered
may lift at times into a wind
carrying sand, or into a deluge to follow.

"Where will we go," asks the poem's voice,
"when they send us away from here?" ?
the body gone
from all its familiar desirings
and gone this mind
that was a savoring,
while its voice alone continues,
a comfort to desire.


Barry Spacks earns his keep as a persistently visiting professor at UC Santa Barbara after years of teaching at M.I.T. He's published many poems in various journals, paper and pixel, plus stories, two novels, and seven poetry collections, the most extensive of which is SPACKS STREET: NEW & SELECTED POEMS, from Johns Hopkins. A CD of 42 poems, A PRIVATE READING, appeared in October 2000.

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