Dan Campion

US Patent 6,469, “Buoying Vessels Over Shoals”

Just out of reach is where inventions wait
for most of us. Our sixteenth president
was holder of a patent, but its fate
was swiftly to be judged irrelevant.
A sort of Mae West for a riverboat
in trouble, the device did not take off.
Most inspirations are of lesser note
even than his. They haven’t heft enough.
Or they are perfect answers but we fail
to pose the proper questions. Tinkerers
have met a need sometimes. But none avail
except in gross material affairs.
It wasn’t thwarted plans to tame a shoal
that rendered Lincoln inconsolable.

Dan Campion is the author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism and coeditor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song, a third edition of which was issued in 2019. His poems have appeared previously in the Innisfree Poetry Journal and in many anthologies and magazines, including Able Muse, Blue Unicorn, Ekphrasis, Light, Measure, Midwest Quarterly, The North American Review, Poetry, Rolling Stone, Shenandoah, and Think. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.



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