Green Hills Literary Lantern





When the policeman arrived

to take me to my mother,

who had run away from my father,

my classmates were impressed.


A knock on the fifth-grade door,

and when Sr. Mary Rose opened it

a uniformed figure twice her size

filled the doorway.


He spoke sotto voce to her,

a sensitive policeman, but when

she turned and called my name,

even Jimmy Signorelli gasped.


By fifth-grade I had already become

a teacher’s pet, straight-A pupil,

iconic good Catholic boy, never

a trouble-maker to interest the police.


So all heads turned in my direction

as I walked between the desks

to the front of the room, and when

the officer led me away, his hand


on my shoulder, I could hear behind me

a rush of whispering from the class

before Sr. Mary Rose demanded both

silence and eyes lowered to books,


though I could not appreciate then

my new status as an outlaw, the envy

of the toughs and reason some girls 

felt for the first time a certain stirring.




Philip Dacey is the author of thirteen books of poetry, including entire collections about Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Eakins, and New York City; his most recent is Church of the Adagio (Rain Mountain Press, 2014).  His work appears in Scribner’s Best American Poetry 2014 and his awards include three Pushcart Prizes as well as various fellowships (among them a Fulbright to Yugoslavia, a Woodrow Wilson to Stanford, as well as two in creative writing from the National Endowment for the Arts).  With David Jauss, he co-edited Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms (Harper & Row, 1986).