“The Man Kissed the Letter” by Erik Campbell

Erik Campbell


The man kissed the letter slowly
Before dropping it in the mailbox.

It felt awkward dropping
My gas bill in after this.

Even my packet of poems
Couldn’t help, whittled down
To imprecise love letters,
Photocopied for any and all comers.

And I felt suddenly as shameless
As a man in a bar teaching
A pretty woman to shoot pool.

This is nothing new to you.

You’ve seen the man
Kissing the letter.

Perchance you’ve been the man
In the bar. As for me,

Anymore I’ll take any scrap of shame
That the Greeks left us.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004


Erik Campbell: “One afternoon in the summer of 1994 I was driving to work and I heard Garrison Keillor read Stephen Dunn’s poem ‘Tenderness’ on The Writer’s Almanac. After he finished the poem I pulled my car over and sat for some time. I had to. That is why I write poems. I want to make somebody else late for work.” (web)

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