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Some of the Unknown Dead

by Wesley McNair

had beautiful penmanship
all their lives.

Others never got a single cavity
or were so funny
they could have been comedians.

They did tricks their families knew,
wiggling their ears,
looking straight ahead
with one eye while the other
watched dust
in a corner.

Wanting most to be loved,
one lived in a house
so expensive those who passed it
saw he did not need them.

Another, who always sat
at the edges of the conversation,
nodding, felt a chronic pain
nobody guessed.
Lawyers, businessmen,

parents and lovers, all
had something to hide.
Few understood how much.


Wesley McNair is the author of eight poetry collections. He has received fellowships from the Rockefeller, Fulbright and Gugenheim foundations. His newest book, The Ghosts of You and Me (Godine), was released this month. McNair recently retired from the University of Maine at Farmington, where he directed the creative writing program. (6/2006)

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