Elegy by Firelight
I never had the time to write
about the loneliness of waking
at 4 a.m. to the certainty of my own
early demise in my father's eye
that wrote me off like a painless
new surgery for cataracts. I never
had a minute until my brother's cat
that ate the canary grin drove all day
through a storm with a loaf of bread
and the image of the two of us
on our backs and staring at the heartbeat
of fire punishing the ceiling until daybreak
erased everything we knew our father
never let us close to. We didn't
do that. He had business
further north and I had already
invented a new father better than my own
who was just as lonely as the son
he invented to keep him company
for the last minutes of moonlight before morning.
© 2007 Roger Weingarten
Weingarten’s nominated chapbook, Greatest Hits:
1972-2002, was published by Pudding House Press in 2003.
He is the author of eight collections of poetry including
Ghost Wrestling, 1997; Infant Bonds of Joy,
1990, and Shadow Shadow, 1996, with David R. Godine,
The Vermont Suicides, 1978; Ethan Benjamin Boldt,
1975, with Alfred A. Knopf, and 1987, with an introduction
by Mark Jarman, Story Line Press, and What are Birds Worth,
1975; The Cummington Press.
His poems have appeared
in APR, The New Yorker, Poetry,
The Paris Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares,
The Prague Revue, and The Kenyon Review,
among many others. He has co-edited six poetry anthologies,
including Manthology: Poems on the Male Experience,
University of Iowa Press 2006; New American Poets,
2005; Poets of the New Century, 2001; New American
Poets of the ‘90s, 1991, all with David R. Godine.
He edited Ghost Writing, a short story collection,
Invisible Cities Press, 2001, and co-edited Open Book:
Essays from the Postgraduate Writers’Conference,
Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006. Poetry Consultant for David
R. Godine, 1987-1994, he is General Editor of the Invisible
Cities Press Poetry Series, and Contributing Editor for Interpoezia,
an international online and print journal presenting poems
in Russian and English.
His awards include a Pushcart Prize, a Louisville
Review Poetry Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Award,
and an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award in Literature. He has
lectured, taught and read at writers’ conferences, poetry
festivals, and universities nationally and internationally.
He founded and teaches in the MFA in Writing and the Postgraduate
Summer Writers’ Conference at Vermont College of the
Union Institute and University.