I am deeply grateful to the NEA for honoring me with this fellowship, and am thankful not only for the financial "breathing room" that allows me more time to write, but for the psychological and emotional boost as well. This fellowship comes on the heels of the publication of my first collection of poems, and has given me a wonderful momentum as I work on the manuscript for my second collection.
It is successful, he thinks, for lack of a better word,
a reflexive, pleasant, well-balanced joining of the public sides
of two selves, the tongue and groove
of every honest welcome he has ever known,
but sometimes it is, like this evening, too much or not enough,
misaligned between the thumb and forefinger, the palm, the wrist;
a stumbling or a jockeying at the leading edge
of this first impression, this soft, almost-hot hand of an old friend of his wife,
and the way he comes at it sideways, holding on
a moment too long, his elbow crooked out away from his body
suggests the eagerness of compensation,
not for a particular mistake, not a lie or a bribe, or even
an old affair with his wife,
but something deep and sustained this handshake has pointed to
like a compass, for which he will never forgive him.