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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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