The Day I Photographed Lincoln

I asked him
if there was a quiet place
where we might be free.
He said, No. That is not to be.
Then he looked down at his boots.
Like the leather of his face,
they were scuffed beyond repair
and undermined by creases.
A century later he said,
Would you like a cup of tea?

I thanked him and said I would,
then we gazed out at the rain.
It has been like this for days now,
the president explained.
Sometimes I think it will never stop.
And lately I see the dead,
lying here, and here, and here,
and there, down below.

I could see them too,
the unmarried boys, the bearded men,
but when I tried to find them with the lens,
I saw nothing but the wind.

Tell me. Do you read poetry?
His question took me by surprise.
I am now firmly convinced, said he,
only verse can save the people.
I have also learned,
at an unforgivable cost,
that its absence marks
the beginning of our grief.

As he confided his belief,
the dead men came to their feet.
One by one, to better hear his words,
they gathered at the window.
It was then, without knowing,
that the great man posed.

April 4, 2005

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Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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