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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 17, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I wrote this poem on the cusp of my forty-fifth birthday; in what is likely the middle of my life, I often feel mystified, invisible, but also incredibly lucky—because I’m still here. This poem borrows the form of ‘Policronías,’ one of my favorites by Cortázar.”
—Randall Mann

A Better Life

It’s silly to think
fourteen years ago
I turned thirty.

How I made it that far
I’ll never know.
In this city of hills,

if there was a hill
I was over it. Then.
(In queer years,

years
are more than.)
Soon it will be fifteen

since the day I turned thirty.
It’s so remote.
I didn’t think I’d make it

to fourteen years ago.
Fear lives in the chest
like results.

You say my gray, it makes
me look extinguished;
you make me cringe.

I haven’t cracked
the spines of certain paperbacks,
or learned a sense of direction,

even with a slick device.
But the spleen doesn’t ask twice,
and soon it will be fifteen years

since I turned thirty.
Which may not sound like a lot.
Which sounds like the hinge

of a better life:
It is, and it is not.

Copyright © 2017 by Randall Mann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 17, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Randall Mann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 17, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Randall Mann

Randall Mann

Randall Mann is the author of Proprietary (Persea Books, 2017) and Straight Razor (Persea Books, 2013). 

by this poet

poem

Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958–2016


“Adore” was my song
Back in ’87—
Cool beans, I liked to say,
Desperately uncool.
Except for you.
Florida, a dirty hand
Gesture; the state, pay dirt.
Headphones on, I heard,
In a word, you were sex,
Just in

2
poem

Out of the fog comes a little white bus.
It ferries us south to the technical mouth
of the bay. This is biopharma, Double Helix Way.

In the gleaming canteen, mugs have been
dutifully stacked for our dismantling,
a form of punishment.

Executives take the same elevator as I.

poem
?
is only something on which to hang
your long overcoat; the slender snake asleep
in the grass; the umbrella by the door;

the black swan guarding the pond.
This ? has trouble in mind: do not ask
why the wind broods, why the light is so unclean.

It is summer, the rhetoric of the field,
its yellow grasses,