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22 November 1963 is a date that is seared in my consciousness. I can still smell the crisp Oregon air. I can still see my school chums try to make sense of it.

I was asked in 1978 what my memories were of that day. I had attempted other ways of describing it, but the following poem finally “synthesized” it well enough for me. It has appeared in several small and academic presses. In 1983, it won the Roger and Ruth Suva Prize and was the featured poem in the American Poetry Anthology for that year.

Age of Dallas

What did it mean
To be young
In the Age of Dallas?

To come home
To the farmhouse?

Ironing strewn
Across the living room
Mother crying
In front of the T.V.

Re-runs of Dealey Plaza.

I remember someone
Mentioning Camelot
Third-grade in Corvallis
My teacher came from Austin

But the School Secretary
Came from the
Principal’s office

Met our teacher
At the classroom door.

Tears
Flushed cheeks

We were filed
Onto the school bus

Solemnly driven home.

© 1978 by Justice Putnam
and Mechanisches Strophe-Verlagswesen

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