Truth went through a leaky funnel starting in late 1963

that blade-lit afternoon Gary Orrin laughed at Kennedy’s murder

bleeding through the static of P.S. 41’s cheap PA. There’s Greenwich Village—

a drowsy dandelion—I called it once—and there

are the heartsick monitors of afternoons. 

My mother is late to pick me up, again. She’s almost better,

but will never find a way to manage the cure. Outside American family life,

nothing happens for years until OJ’s glove: interspersed with some other

sloppy American truth. If I didn’t know everything I already know

I could count on the dog while she rifles through her morning bowl

in the next room. Poor Ruby. She knows more than I do.

She is eating the world to save it.


Copyright © 2017 by Michael Klein. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 30, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Like a number of poems I’ve written, I had the last line first and worked backward. The poem looks at relative truth and how, in youth (troubling for me), the examples were somewhat dire—national life and personal life seemed weirdly connected. That connection has also been a huge hallmark of 2016, personally. And Ruby coming into the poem, in present time, is a reminder for me that hunger for life is a kind of hope for the future.”
—Michael Klein