John DesCamp, “Free Advice”

John DesCamp

Out of the wrinkled grey afternoon
into the desperate chatter of the wake
for a last look where he lay

in his coffin. I heard him say:
“It’s the bleak virtues that are the measure—
loyalty, persistence, joy in the small things;

most of all, that you keep on smiling
when all the idiot romance is burned away
by the endless days of just getting by,

and you finally own the despair you saw
around the edges of your parents’ eyes,
when you could bring yourself to look.”

Author’s Comment: My uncle was CIA (Catholic Irish Alcoholic) for years, then got sober. Somehow his and my aunt’s marriage endured to the end, and equal compound of refusal to countenance divorce as a solution and a deep belief that marriage really was for better or for worse. Their persistence in what was, for a long time, an arid union seemed to me, standing there looking at him, like a bleak good example.

Bio: John DesCamp is the author of Along the Way, his debut collection of poetry, and of numerous legal and business papers that will never be read by anyone except his clients and professional colleagues. He is a recovering attorney and investment banker who hopes to emulate Wallace Stevens’ ability to succeed in both the world of finance and the world of poetry.

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