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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
          in memory of Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, and Tyler Clementi

There are those who suffer in plain sight,
there are those who suffer in private.
Nothing but secondhand details:
a last shower, a request for a pen, a tall red oak.

There are those who suffer in private.
The one in Tehachapi,
poem
Jealousy.  Whispered weather reports.
The lure of the land so strong it prompts
gossip: we chatter like small birds
at the edge of the ocean gray, foaming.

Now sand under sand hides
the buried world, the one in which our fathers failed,
the palm frond a dangerous truth
they once believed, and touched.  Bloodied
poem

Please
consider Ocean Beach
out of reach.
Try not to gulp
the green water
we porpoise
like employees.
My purpose:
your thought-partner.

There is a feeling
just shy of feeling,
like tongue on teeth.
Disbelief
hangs there,
an ill-chosen comma,