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Eighty Birthdays

Text of Poem

This cake, a snow-topped hill,
bare, not eighty candles to march
with flaming banners as a victory
over time. No, the decorator
with his spurting artery stained
a red 80 against the white.
If I could blow out eighty candles
and make a wish, I would wish
for a new body, strong as a tree trunk,
hungry for love as a stallion
searching the meadow for thighs
hidden in the grass.
I ride this old donkey,
a trembling beast, lame-footed,
worn teeth, blind to directions . . .
He still haunts me, my stranger,
the sturdy-footed memory
with the ape still in his heart
who strayed through the country
gathering grapes and girl’s cries,
kin to the dawn man who gnawed bones
and painted trophies
on his cave’s wall.

First Line
This cake, a snow-topped hill,
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
Yankee Magazine (Dec. 1977) 214.
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