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A Winter Ode to the Old Men of Lummus Park, Miami, Florida -- Donald Justice

Guest poem submitted by David W:
(Poem #1967) A Winter Ode to the Old Men of Lummus Park, Miami, Florida
 Risen from rented rooms, old ghosts
 Come back to haunt our parks by day,
 They crept up Fifth Street through the crowd,
 Unseeing and almost unseen,
 Halting before the shops for breath,
 Still proud, pretending to admire
 The fat hens dressed and hung for flies
 There, or perhaps the lone, dead fern
 Dressing the window of a small
 Hotel. Winter had blown them south--
 How many? Twelve in Lummus Park
 I counted, shivering where they stood,
 A little thicket of thin trees,
 And more on benches, turning with
 The sun, wan heliotropes, all day.

 O you who wear against the breast
 The torturous flannel undervest
 Winter and summer, yet are cold,
 Poor cracked thermometers stuck now
 At zero everlastingly,
 Old men, bent like your walking sticks
 As with the pressure of some hand,
 Surely they must have thought you strong
 To lean on you so hard, so long!
-- Donald Justice
Donald Justice might be my favorite poet.  It's difficult to say for
sure, but I can say that his work has influenced me more than any
other's.  He is the "master of nostalgia", but I think that the intimacy
and elegance of his work are the major allures for me.  Here is one of
my favorites. It isn't anthologized as much as some others.

If anybody has ever used the word "heliotropes" with more effect, I
haven't seen it.  He slips that Latinate polysyllable in, but you might
notice it's a little lonely.  The simplicity of his language may be part
of what makes it feel intimate.  One of his more popular poems "Men At
Forty" is similar in this respect.

If you are interested, here is a short bio for Justice:


[Minstrels Links]

Donald Justice:
  Poem #503: Anonymous Drawing
  Poem #1343: Poem to be read at 3am
  Poem #1647: Men at Forty