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Good Linemen Live in a Closed World -- James Whitehead

Guest poem submitted by Chris Boese:
(Poem #1505) Good Linemen Live in a Closed World
 Good linemen live in a closed world -- they move
 Inside themselves to move themselves against
 The others and their violence -- they give
 To interior visions whole seasons no good sense
 Would approve -- their insides creak and groan, crying
 A thing that's trapped along the line is shrill
 And curious and wants out. Bodies playing
 Laugh and dream to gain the massive will
 Their trade requires. These men maintain, they attack,
 They suffer repetition for years and years.
 Part war and similar to art, their work
 Is sometimes elegant. Inside their fears
 At the closed center of one fear, they move
 Quickly against themselves with a massive love.
-- James Whitehead
I'd like to nominate a poem to honor my great teacher and the wonderful
Southern poet James Whitehead, who passed away last Friday [several months
ago now - ed.]. This poem from his book _Local Men_ gives a different cast
to the traditional love sonnet. Its theme is love, but it crawls inside the
punishing line of (what for Jim was) the Vanderbilt football team. The
prosody is as tight as the line must be. Not a word is wasted. I never had
Jim's ear for prosody, and he sometimes had to whack me on the head to help
hear the beat.

This is also one of his most famous poems.

Chris Boese.

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