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Tom Barlow

Response to a Card Found in a 
Second-hand Collection
of William Stafford Poems

"Sophie—I love you so much!
Don't get down this weekend…
you have to celebrate life. I'll
be thinking about you. 
Love, Emma


Celebration is a heavy stick
To hand to someone who has never
Trusted herself with a weapon.
In East Africa, they swing 
Their clubs to no avail 
At the swarms of locust 
Devouring their crops.
What is left then
For them to celebrate except
A plate of stems and
A tea cup full of dust?
I can no more squash that which
Darkens my own sky than
Paint a smile on my lips
That does not sear me.
I fear I will starve
Without you.

Tom Barlow is an Ohio writer whose work has appeared in journals including The Stoneboat Literary Journal, Ekphrastic Review, Voicemail Poetry, Hobart, Tenemos, Redivider, Harbinger Asylum, Heron Clan, The Remington Review, Your Daily Poem, and many more. See more at

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