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As the resident poet at EcoHealth Alliance, my verse finds inspiration these days in the spectre of global pandemics. At LMU Munich's Amerika-Institut, where I tutor composition and poetics, I'm anatomizing the sonnets of E. A. Robinson for my dissertation. I also teach at Münchner Volkshochschule and Amerikahaus.

20160531

Port of Aerial Embarkation

by John Ciardi

There is no widening distance at the shore—  
The sea revolving slowly from the piers— 
But the one border of our take-off roar  
And we are mounted on the hemispheres. 

Above the waning moon whose almanac  
We wait to finish continents away,  
The Northern stars already call us back,  
And silence folds like maps on all we say. 

Under the sky, a stadium tensed to cry 
The ringside savage thrumming of the fights,  
We watch our engines, taut and trained for sky,  
Arranged on fields of concrete flowered with lights. 

Day after day we fondle and repeat 
A jeweler’s adjustment on a screw; 
Or wander past the bulletins to meet 
And wander back to watch the sky be blue. 

Somehow we see ourselves in photographs  
Held in our hands to show us back our pride  
When, aging, we recall in epitaphs 
The faces just behind and to each side. 

The nights keep perfect silence. In the dark  
You feel the faces soften into sleep, 
Or tense upon the fraught and falling arc  
Of fear a boy had buried not too deep. 

Finally we stand by and consciously  
Measure the double sense of all our talk,  
And, everyman his dramatist, anxiously  
Corrects his role, his gesture, and his walk.

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