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Miles Coon

Miles Coon

Miles Coon met Thomas Lux in a 1997 summer workshop that Tom kicked off by saying, “Welcome to Sarah Lawrence. My job is to pay attention to your every word…careful attention, and in doing so, teach you to do the same. You must care about your work, as I do, and devote yourself to it. Learn here, around this table, to listen to the sounds the poem makes…its mouth music! We’re all weirdos here, and thank God we have each other to help improve our writing. If you’re lucky, you’ll learn to love poetry. By serving the craft, you can become part of something larger than yourself.” Miles went on to earn his MFA at Sarah Lawrence in 2002 where Tom was his thesis advisor. After graduating, Miles, with Tom’s encouragement and assistance, founded the Palm Beach Poetry Festival in 2005, and Tom recruited and chaired its advisory board and taught at every annual festival from 2005 through 2016. Miles lives in Palm Beach Florida with his wife Mimi who serves as Corporate Secretary of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival.  

Dear Tom

Dear Tom,
    I will always remember you on your wedding day, just before the taking of your vows. You, in a white suit, and Jenny, such a beautiful bride. Your buddy Chard, ready to officiate.  Even the foliage began dancing behind you, and I won't forget your smile that day, how well-behaved your hair.  
    The sun, that you so richly deserved, shone upon you that day. And now, that you have led the way for the rest of us to heaven, I thank you for the blessing that was your life. It would take forever to count your acts of kindness, generosity and for your words, unlike the words of any other mortal. And perhaps, dear Tom, that was because your words were touched with "intimations of immortality."
     So how can I thank you, Tom? Maybe by reciting A Poem of Thanks, that you wrote, that I now address to you, Tom, one of God's particles in the world:  

Poem of Thanks

Lord Whoever, thank you for this air
I'm about to in- and exhale, this hutch
in the woods, the wood for fire,
the light—both lamp and the natural stuff
off leaf-back, fern, and wing.
For the piano, the shovel
for ashes, the moth-gnawed
blankets, the stone-cold water
stone-cold, thank you.
Thank you, Lord, coming for
to carry me here-where I'll gnash
it out, Lord, where I'll calm
and work, Lord, thank you
for the goddamn birds singing!

With our love,
Miles and Mimi
March 12, 2017

Ode to the Fat Child Who Went First onto the Thin Ice

to test it for three of us about a dozen feet
behind. He was a big boy
and could have broken
each of us, had he chosen to.
Instead, he was a good, big boy,
whose mother loved him and called him Pumpkin.
We were at a pond, once a local source
for the frozen-water trade, and, at this part,
Ice House Beach, the thickest, the last to thin,
everyone said. Early spring of a hard winter.
On the opposite shore, there were some woods
we wanted to enter, a shortcut home.
He disdained a rope we'd brought.
He went forward about ten feet.
We went back about ten feet.
At mid-pond he said, "Come on,
one at a time. It's plenty. . .
We'd retreated up the beach ten more feet by now.
He crossed to the other side
and called again, but while his back was turned,
we took the safe, the unthankful way home.



from To the Left of Time, Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016


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