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FIGHTING THE FIRE — In the recent fire that destroyed Piquette Storage in Detroit, Swords into Plowshares lost a lot. The local theater company used the facility to store sets, props, lighting equipment, flats, stage covers, masking, costuming and antique furniture. The fire consumed more than a decade's collected material. The company is asking friends for donations.

American Life in Poetry
By Ted Kooser,
U.S. Poet Laureate

Birthdays, especially those marking the passage of a decade, are occasions not only for celebration, but for reflection. In "Turning Forty," Ohio poet Kevin Griffith conveys a confusion of sentiments. The speaker feels a sense of peace at 40, but recalls a more powerful, more confident time in his life.

Turning Forty

At times it's like there is a small planet inside me. And on this planet, there are many small wars, yet none big enough to make a real difference.

The major countries — mind and heart — have called a truce for now. If this planet had a ruler, no one remembers him well. All decisions are made by committee.

Yet there are a few pictures of the old dictator — how youthful he looked on his big horse, how bright his eyes.

He was ready to conquer the world.


Reprinted from Cooweescoowee, A Journal of Arts and Letters, by permission of the author, whose most recent book is Paradise Refunded (Backwaters Press, 1998). Poem copyright 2004 by Kevin Griffith. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

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