Here the postman always rings twice

and the iceman cometh.

The traveling salesman dies

once for the gracious lady from Mississippi,

once for the New York playwright

who married the gorgeous blonde,

Gatsby is still great, of course;

so is Santini, greater than

Rabbit, who merely runs,

or Francis Macomber, whose happy life

was clipped so sadly short,

or the artist whose portrait was painted

when he was a young man, just like Dorian Gray

(and wasn’t that a mistake!).

Whenever Mr. Flood has his party,

J. Alfred Prufrock continues to sing

his love song, always slightly off-key

And folks still stop by woods on snowy evenings,

though each soul selects its own society

and considers thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird

each April, when lilacs in the dooryard bloom.

Sally Buckner is a former English professor at Peace College. She is the author of Strawberry Harvest and editor of Word and Witness: 100 Years of North Carolina Poetry. Sally lives in Raleigh with her husband, Bob.