Dewitt Clinton



When I look out into the late
afternoon I think how could
such things happen. I’ve seen
crimson so deep, surely this
is what color means.
Once I saw a fox.
I’ll never forget walking
into a black bear, grazing.
These are wonders, yes?
Sometimes I roll over
in the night, hear saxophones,
keyboards, marimbas–my way
of returning to earth.
What shall I do? Love someone,
I mean really love someone.
Help someone learn how to read, deeply?
Couldn’t I just breathe,
wouldn’t that be enough?
I look into the sky
and think maybe
I’m just a speck of light,
like Jane* says. The way
I see it, I’m one of those
paper skin ashes floating over Poland.
Perhaps that’s all we can
do–wonder, and wonder some more.
Before us is this fading light.
Let us move into it, take breath
into it, ask of it nothing.

*from “Once There Was Light,” Jane Kenyon 1947-1995


DeWitt Clinton is Emeritus Professor at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, and lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin. A few poems from a book length adaptation of Kenneth Rexroth’s 100 Poems from the Chinese have appeared in Cha: An Asian Literary Quarterly, qarrtsiluni, Verse Wisconsin, Verse-Virtual, The Missing Slate, and He recently received an Honorable Mention in the Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award by the Council of Wisconsin Writers.