DeWitt Clinton

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After Reading Yehuda Amichai’s “The School Where I Studied,”
I Do Wonder What I’ve Learned After So Many Lessons, Lectures

The places of my old school desks, some
with flip tops, some with tables that just
lifted you up and out, well, I can't find
any of them now, but I'm still studying,
always hungry for why is that or who
thinks that about that.  I've learned a
few things, but most of what I've learned
I've forgotten, and don't want to even
try to get back to those long lessons.
The sciences were always way too 
much to absorb the way we had to 
absorb so much so quickly. I may have
even failed astronomy, and I'm still
wondering about the names of weeds
that still appear unexpectedly in the 
back yard, unwanted, even bitter they're
there. Now I'm a big history buff, and 
don't mind at all reading about civilizations
that hadn't even become civilizations just
yet. Of course, I forget quickly all that 
happened, then.  The windows of the
house where I live in now are closed
to keep out all the bugs and weeds, 
though I don't look up too often when
studying something new, as I'm probably
there, briefly, and not here, wondering
what chore I have to do right away.
Ask some of my friends, but I wasn't
a big playground player, though I did
like to spin and spin on the merry-go-round.
Sadly, I haven't met anyone I wanted 
to love even close to a school yard,
but that's not so important now.  Is it?
Still, I wouldn't miss walking through
a museum over and over, even if I 
was there before sometime, the joy
of reading little stories behind glass
or plexiglass is just about all that
I can remember, for now, about then.


“O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
 In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes”—John Keats

It’s late in the afternoon, but then, about this time,
It’s always late in the afternoon, and though I’m about
To fall out of this old chair, propping me up high enough
To see what is going on outside, that is if I open the blinds
Just enough to let the dying light in to light up whatever
Is inside here, though lately, I’m not so certain there’s
That much to light up, as the dim light is so much preferred,
Don’t you think? But then you’re not here, right, and you’ll
Probably never come by as you’re busy over there probably
Doing nothing, as I’m doing nothing here, but isn’t that the
Way it goes, we’re both doing nothing, including anyone
Who’s just popped into the scene to see if anything we aren’t
Doing would be more interesting than what anyone else is
Doing that’s interesting, but that’s our conundrum, isn’t it,
And to tell you the truth, all of us are probably just doing
Nothing right now, and if anybody calls up, or texts us, we’d
Say we’re plenty busy, but why is it that we need to tell so
Many that we’re on to something big, or even bigger, when
We don’t really have anything interesting going on, except
Watching the dying light get just a bit dimmer where we are
But perhaps that’s all we can expect, that we’re not freezing,
We’re not all banged up after an armed robbery, we’re still
Able to put together syllables and phonemes, we can swallow,
Thank heavens, but lately, we’ve been swallowing a lot more
Of that white/red bottled water as the evening slowly descends
Into dusk, and then, that’s about it, isn’t it, and we’ve had such
A terrific day by not succumbing to whatever is so easy to just
Let the old scythe right in, as there’s really not that much more
To do, but the covers seem inviting, and perhaps we’ll know
What we can do if we can only make it through
O Soothest Sleep.


DeWitt Clinton taught English, Creative Writing, and World of Ideas courses for over 30 years at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater. His earlier collections of poetry include The Conquistador Dog Texts, The Coyot. Inca Texts, (New Rivers Press), At the End of the War (Kelsay Books, 2018), By A Lake Near A Moon:  Fishing with the Chinese Masters (Is A Rose Press, 2020), and Hello There (Word Poetry, 2021).