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Free Verse: Lee Upton

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This poem leaps playfully from image to image, metaphor to metaphor, man to man. Despite the loss and disappointment voiced at the end, I’m not sure the speaker of this poem wouldn’t do it all again. It is an ode to love after all.

Lee Upton

Love’s Ode

There once was a man who loved me

with a cat’s love,

which is to say I could not depend on it,

although I could depend on his punctuality.

A cat’s appetite is a clock.

There once was a clock

who loved me like a man.

Not like any man

but like one particular man.

A clock has time on its hands

and you can tell time’s up by its face.

There once was a face

that loved me like a suitcase,

a suitcase on a conveyor belt

forgotten for two weeks at the airport.

There once was a man

who loved me like an airport.

I had to take off my clothes

just to get past security.

There once was security

in loving no one at all.

No one at all was enough for me.

Then I bought a cat.

A man appeared who loved me

as if he loved me.

Love was a cat in a clock in a suitcase

passing through airport security.

I risked so much, it’s beyond me.

This poem will appear in River Styx’s special American Odes issue, due out this fall. Lee Upton’s most recent book, Swallowing the Sea: On Writing & Ambition, Boredom, Purity & Secrecy, appeared in "2012 from Tupelo." A collection of her short stories, The Tao of Humiliation, is forthcoming in 2014 from BOA Editions.

Other "Free Verse" poets: Annie Finch, Robert Wrigley, James Arthur, Janice N. Harrington, William Trowbridge, Francesca Bell, Joshua Mehigan, Jill Alexander Essbaum, Drucilla WallMichael Meyerhofer, Travis Mossotti, Allison Joseph, Stacy Lynn Brown, Adrian Matejka, David Clewell, Catherine Rankovic,Andy Cox, Rodney Jones, Sara Burge, Melody Gee, Christopher Todd Anderson, Andrew Hudgins, Richard Cecil.

To learn more about River Styx, click here. Richard Newman, River Styx editor for 18 years, is the author of two full-length poetry collections, "Borrowed Towns" and "Domestic Fugues." He also co-directs the River Styx at Tavern of Fine Arts reading series.

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