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By George Bilgere

The last time I saw Paul Castle

it was printed in gold on the wall

above the showers in the boys’

locker room, next to the school

record for the mile. I don’t recall

his time, but the year was 1968

and I can look across the infield

of memory to see him on the track,

legs flashing, body bending slightly

beyond the pack of runners at his back.


He couldn’t spare a word for me,

two years younger, junior varsity,

and hardly worth the waste of breath.

He owned the hallways, a cool blonde

at his side, and aimed his interests

further down the line than we could guess.


Now, reading the name again,

I see us standing in the showers,

naked kids beneath his larger,

comprehensive force—the ones who trail

obscurely, in the wake of the swift,

like my shadow on this gleaming wall.


George Bilgere, “At the Vietnam Memorial” from Big Bang. Copyright © 1999 by George Bilgere. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Beech Press, www.copperbeechpress.com.

Source: The Poetry Anthology 1912-2002 (Copper Beech Press, 2002)

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Poet Bio

George Bilgere
Bilgere's poetry, while residing firmly in the every-day world of janitors, college students or siblings, is noted for its controlled poignancy and limpid free-verse line. Billy Collins has described him as "a welcome breath of fresh American air." A resident of Ohio, Bilgere lives in Cleveland, where he teaches creative writing at John Carroll University. See More By This Poet

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