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“Midafternoon Midsummer”

A new poem by Coleman Barks

Midafternoon midsummer when the big paddlewheels came by
pushing barges or self-contained in an astonishingly plush
excursion boat, people waving from the railing, Tony Heywood
and I would hear them coming and exult, and run toward
the bluff, the lookout place, and get them maybe finally
to blow the big horn bu-buh buuuhhhhhhh for no reason.
And Jim Hitt would come down from his second-floor apartment
to stand with his hands on his hips to take in the glory of
the 19th Century going by, Mark Twain, Wordsworth, Dostoyevsky,
Stendhal, Balzac, several Civil Wars, and the deliciously profound
slush-slush of the wheel digging deep for push and purchase in
the stern-swing of the bending toward the foot of the mountain,
heel of the moccasin. God. I am almost back there standing
with him again. I hear the others coming up behind us.

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