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DeWitt Clinton

Not Exactly

By DeWitt Clinton

We’re here, just like you thought we were here,
But not for long, so don’t get your hopes up,
At least not that much as who knows what
Might happen even before we get to the end.
Isn’t that what you’ve heard somewhere,
That even though you’re certainly having one
Hell of a time, it will soon fade, and then, very
Likely, you might not even remember who
Was where, at least I can’t, and please say
Exactly why you can remember everyone
You’ve ever kissed, or smooched a bit, or
Held a hand, heck, it’s hard just to remember
Anything yesterday, let alone all the times
We’ve been in contact with someone else
Out there, so just don’t try to make a big
Deal out of it, and enjoy what you have
Right now, because believe me, and I’m
Not the only one who knows this, it’s
More than likely not going to turn out
Like you hoped it would, and why should
It, after all, that would be something like
Listening to the same old 45 over and over
And who has 45’s anyway, so please don’t
Open up that old closet of yours and
Pull down or sort through all of those
Albums you’ve collected and not listened
To for years, and remember, every single
One of them is going to sound a bit scratchy,
And will probably disappoint something
Huge, but that’s what’s going to happen
If you keep going back through all your
Stuff like that, so just call up the haul
Away your old memories guy as he’ll
Make more money on what you’ve
Forgotten than you could ever believe,
Really, so what’s wrong with that,
And he’ll play them once or twice,
Nodding and maybe even boogying
Down a bit like he used to, but then
He’ll sell them to a dealer, and then
They’ll just collect dust until some
Old fan will finger her way through
What was yours, and then, well, sheer
Delight for her, and you, sadly will
Be not in the mood for any music,
No sir, as you’ll be out of here, no
Memories whatsoever, as you’re not
Here, even though you pretended
That you’d be here on an unlimited
Visit, but that’s the problem, isn’t
It, we just don’t know what’s next
Do we, even though we saunter a
Bit thinking this is it, something we
All want to savor, so go ahead savor,
But somewhere in that poor brainpan
Of yours remember, you’re already

So-So, So Let’s Order Carry-Out

But not terribly so-so, or hugely so-so, just sort of so-so
Though few will know what in the world is that, but then
Not everyone has such a clown smile on for special effects,
And perhaps when the door is closed, and no one is watching,
Perhaps the lips rise slightly in hopes that somebody
Somewhere, somehow, some way might start shouting to
The rooftops just like when “Beale” shouts in “Network,” and
You know the lines don’t you, it’s pretty much how all of us
Feel about now, fed up with just about everything that’s
Going on, and not going on, so go ahead, say it in your head,
“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
Except we’re probably going to take it just like we’ve been
Taking it, and probably will for a very long-time way into
The future, but that sounds a bit lame, doesn’t it, as if
We have no real future, even if as the ancient priests
Wondered, whether the Sun would return after seeing it
Disappear, so let’s get up early and pray a lot hoping the
Best for light, and if the light doesn’t return, let’s just
Go back to bed, as the lights are still out, not only outside,
But inside, as the stars aren’t even blinking every now
And then, and so we’re hopeful, of course, but for what
None of us are quite sure as so much has been such a
Huge disappointment, but hey, did you say it was time
For adult refreshments, so, heck, let’s order carry-out.

Then, There’s That

Of course, no one expected what would happen happen just
Like that, but isn’t that the way most of our well laid plans
End up, so surprisingly different than what anyone would
Have ever imagined, but why, for heaven’s sake, did any one
Think things would go just as we planned back then, even if
Back then was so long ago, though no one even has any notes
To see exactly what everyone got so horribly wrong, but then,
Almost everyone, not everyone, goes into shaking-head
Syndrome, and a kind of pitiful laugh saying, well it really
Wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be, in fact,
It could have been so much worse, but now, no one wants
To even commiserate on what that awful clusterfuck could
Have been, how could they, for don’t they know that no
One, no one really has any idea how any of this will end up.


DeWitt Clinton taught English, Creative Writing, and World of Ideas courses for over 30 years at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater. Recent collections include At the End of the War (Kelsay Books, 2018), By A Lake Near A Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters (Is A Rose Press, 2020), and Hello There (Word Poetry, 2021).His most recent collectionwas awardedthe 2022 Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. He is a student of Iyengar Yoga, and occasionally substitutes as a yoga instructor for seniors in The Village of Shorewood, Wisconsin.