In Memoriam

His name appeared
In Memoriam of the Alumni Today
And I remembered my first,
My only bar fight
(We lit majors were more likely to duel with words)
And I won, technically,
Because I was on top of him
When we were pulled apart.

One of my lit major friends
Was so excited by the spectacle –
The engineering student and I
Rushing out of the bar to continue our brawl –
That she told the story to her conservative parents,
But resetting it in front of a bakery.

I’d like to think of my bar fight
As a skirmish between art and science;
And I not only won the battle,
But got the girl
Who had helped pull us apart
And thereafter chose me to be her husband.

William Faulkner, a famous lit major,
Wrote that man will not only endure, but prevail,
And now, in my sixty-fifth year, I have.

But I do not rejoice as I read his name,
My foe who finished his days in the desert;
I skinned my knees on the sidewalk
And leave drops of blood to dry on the cement for him.

Gary Jones is a writer and teacher who lives in Northern Door with his wife of many years. He enjoys reading, gardening, and running.

Judge comments:
Ostensibly a meditation on the death of a long-ago classmate, this wise and witty poem does a splendid job of derailing all the clichés of nostalgia and self-reference, turning them instead into a wonderfully subversive reminiscence-with-consequences. A flawless re-creation of a specific moment in time, and its unexpectedly potent aftermath.

– Marilyn L Taylor