Stemmata quid faciunt?
Because he never went to college,
my father sold the Book of Knowledge.
Myself, I never went to school,
but did devote myself to pool.
Both of us ended on the rocks,
graduates of old Hard Knocks,
alums of Loving Kindness, yet
ignorant on how to get
along in life without degrees,
no forests for us, only trees,
yet publishing our poetry
in Yale and Southern and Sewanee.
Sometimes the editors write back,
Dear Professor, you’re no hack,
we wish to publish “Ode on Birds”
in which we find such lovely words.
And I write back and say to them
I’m no professor, all the same.
I never even went to college,
but daddy sold the Book of Knowledge,
and I read it, growing up,
when he and I would share a cup
of sherry over Heraclitus
knowing nothing’d ever right us,
knowing nothing quite stands still,
that only changing always will
keep you up with changing things,
like that river on time’s wings
that you can’t step into twice
even if you’d pay the price.
Now that dear old daddy’s gone,
I think I’ll write about a swan.