The Day after the Day Lady Di …

Paul Genega

I wish I could say I was seated at my desk

behind a stack of papers so preternaturally smart

my red pen hadn’t moved

                                          or I was lost in a poem

by Kenneth Patchen, May Swenson or Sarton

some other voice or vision I feared the canon

might soon lose

                          but it was a hot September 1st

fall semester just begun, and having given myself

the gift of skipping the first meeting of the General

Education Oversight Committee

                                                    I was almost

out the door, mere minutes left to office hours

straight up rye Manhattan buzzing my dry tongue

when she walked in

                                 a face without a name

recalled vaguely from last spring, and though

tempted to report I’d received an urgent message

from the provost

                            or more urgently, she who purveyed

our parking decals, there was something in her hey

part North Ward part Bacall, in the raggedy red

of her eyes which

                              made me stop, pull up a chair and

ask almost in church whisper what was on her mind

to which, hard sighing, she replied in a rush of sodden

vowels was the death

                                   the day before of Lady Di

in Paris in a race with those Furies of glitz, the paparazzi

prompting her to wonder through a sleepless night

of sobs what portent

                                  symbol, semaphore, or sign

could be found in that crash, what secrets we might glean

in a limo’s twisted steel, what it all meant—or translated

assurance the happily

                                   ever afters she’d been raised on

were still real, that was what she’d come for, what her

soft raw eyes implored as I scratched chin, cracked

knuckles, waited

                            until my words wrung of old tears

rang true to explain that as I saw it sometimes … maybe

probably … perhaps … it was wise to take one’s foot

off the accelerator.

Paul Genega

Paul Genega’s fifth collection of poetry, All I Can Recall, appeared in 2013 from Salmon Poetry, Ireland. He teaches creative writing at Bloomfield College, New Jersey, where he chairs the Division of Humanities.


I wish I could say I was seated at my desk behind a stack of papers so preternaturally smart my red pen hadn’t moved                                           or I was lost in a poem by Kenneth Patchen, …

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