Jan Schreiber


Philip Larkin Runs a Workshop

These chicks can turn an old dog to a pup.
With wily smile behind a critic’s frown
you try to help them prop their sonnets up
while you’d prefer to pull their pantoums down.

Ivory, or the Wife of Bath

Though we meet every day,
you’re never quite the same.
I find it rather odd:
you flaunt each new façade
as if this were a game
some slippery tease might play.

Considering every place
you’ve touched—you are no prude—
it’s hard for me to see
your vaunted purity.
And yet I’ve felt renewed,
somehow, by our embrace.

Your figure on the shelf
once seemed a lofty bar.
But now you’re fading fast.
Your glory days are past.
I’m sad to see you are
a sliver of yourself.

Must I in fact explain?
I fear, my dear, you’re done.
There is another, yes,
quite keen to effervesce.
Our days of froth and fun
have dribbled down the drain.

Death, Here is Thy Sting

What grieves the unbeliever most?
He’s sad to know
he’ll never have the chance to boast:
“I told you so!”

Jan Schreiber has published widely over five decades. His latest book of poems is Peccadilloes (White Violet Press, 2014), and he’s the author of a book of criticism, Sparring with the Sun (Antilever Press, 2013). He recently served a term as poet laureate of Brookline, Massachusetts, where he lives.