Philip Dacey

The Foreman

“No guns, no alcohol, no pets, no sunflower seeds.”  

                     Sign posted at a construction site

To work here, follow these rules. Hey, I’m talking to you.

No guns, no booze, no pets, no sunflower seeds.

Don’t look so surprised. You have to watch what you chew.

I mean, what will wet cement look like if you spew

husks out of your trap all day? And don’t tell me you

need the protein. What is this, a health spa? My heart bleeds.

It’s time you got serious; there’s a job to do.

No guns, no booze, no pets, no sunflower seeds.



Quartet for Juilliard




The music lovers, all refined, mass

At the door for free seats at a master class.


The pushing gets a little rough.

Oh, pigs at the trough. Pigs at the trough.




I thought it a tattoo on her left breast,

The violinist’s, but it proved the shadow

Of a peg on the neck of what she loved best

And disappeared quickly, only a brief show

But for these eyes a kind of musical rest.




The way the pianist writhes and twists

    On the piano bench,

Just as you did once to make the most

    Of our love-clench.




Stage and screen demand, “Suspend your disbelief,”

But not this Bach partita. What a relief!

Philip Dacey’s latest of thirteen books is Church of the Adagio (Rain Mountain Press, 2014). He appears in Scribner's Best American Poetry 2014. Winner of three Pushcart Prizes, Dacey has published whole volumes of poems about Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Eakins, and New York City. With David Jauss, he co-edited Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms (HarperCollins, 1986).



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