Today's poem is by Michael Spence


If a charlatan makes a hundred predictions and chance brings
about the fulfillment of one of these, the others are forgotten and
the one remains as a token of God's favor and as proof of a miracle.

                          —Voltaire, The Age of Louis XIV

I have called for a fleet of ships
To go down—explosions, hulls
Splitting, all hands lost—
To reach the one that sinks.
In distant countries I see dictators
Fall like rotten fruit: a colonel
In his limousine is blown up.
Every tea leaf shows me
An Armageddon. When those who doubt
Confront me, I say the future is
Hazy. My crystal ball may fog
When I try to read which movie star
Will marry what millionaire,
Which candidate gets elected
Or shot. Entrails, tarot cards,
Star charts, computers: the tools
Change; my trade does not. No matter
What their vision, people come to me.
I search the strings of accidents
They believe in. With the common thread
Drawn loose by magic, I weave them lives.

Copyright © 2006 Michael Spence All rights reserved
from Southwest Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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