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This poem is taken from PN Review 244, Volume 45 Number 2, November - December 2018.

Two Horatian Epistles John McAuliffe
To the Management

after Horace, Epistle 1.14
for David Matthews & Roy Gibson

Manager of my offices and working week,
could we figure out, statistically, which of us does better?
You, grounding strategy in bricks and mortar, or me
tightening the screw on a phrase or an image. Let’s try and see
which is the better commanded, my field or yours.

I call that poet lucky who writes at a kitchen table,
following a line, leaning into its every tautening. You call
blessed the one who has gotten away. But your dullsville
I walk around like a lord: on tree-lined dusty side-roads
the goldfinches’ arrival, or a tide of copper leaves,
can tempt me into detours. And when I arrive,
never late, at my local, there’s a friendly face,
Ceefax in one corner on a small screen and no ‘next

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