Steve Earle 1/1/09

When they announced Steve Earle‘s name
to perform
at the Poetry Project
New Year’s Day marathon
he stood up
right in front of me

white hat
gray beard
light-colored patterned shirt

taking the stage
he apologized
for his absence
the previous year
offered a poem
by way of explanation

his recently deceased father
a farm boy
became a pilot
and then gave it up
when he became a father

Earle said
father gave up
his wings
to give them
to his son

Earle walked straight out
of the room
when he finished

A few poets later
went to look for him
to talk about
losing fathers who were pilots
and speaking out against
the death penalty

He was gone.

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