Tom Sexton: New Poem

‘Man on a Cloisonné Vase’

By Tom Sexton


When I was still a boy with two good

legs, the emperor’s men snatched me


from my parent’s yard and sent me

to the distant frontier to fight.


An old man now, I sit unnoticed

by a small pond waiting for the tip


of my bamboo rod to quiver.

I’ll catch a carp my wife can carry home.


My last living son is on the frontier now.

It’s whispered that the barbarians


are more numerous than the stars.

Night after night boots on the road,


conscripts marching toward the frontier.

They must come home by another road.





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