Excerpt from The Poet's Funeral by John M. Daniel, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Poet's Funeral

by John M. Daniel

The Poet's Funeral
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  • First Published:
    May 2005, 257 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2006, 257 pages

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I took her into the back room and proceeded to fall in love with her.

I showed her the gems of my collection, the J.V. Cunningham, the Yvor Winters, the Janet Lewis, the Edgar Bowers, the Thom Gunn.…

"Thom Gunn?" she said. "Sounds like a cowboy star. Who's this guy Winters? Is he related to Summers? What kind of a name is ‘Yvor'? Poets are a weird bunch, boy."

"I'm boring you," I said. "Sorry."

"Boring? You're not boring. These books are a bit moldy, but you…" She looked into my face and gave me the first of hundreds of glittering winks, each more glittering than the last.

"I what?"

"You ain't boring, pal. Keep talking. Tell me about poetry. Or about anything else. Smile at me again. Hire me."

"Hire?"

"I'll put Guy Mallon Books on the map. I promise. I can do it. Watch." She spun around, flipping her long black hair, stretched out her slender arms and snapped her fingers and wiggled her shapely butt.

"What about Professor Summers?" I asked. "Don't you work for him?"

"He'll be glad to be rid of me," she answered. "But you won't," she quickly added. "I mean you'll be glad to have me. If you'll take me. I've always wanted to work for a publisher." She took my hand. "Let's go across the street to the Paradise Cafe for lunch. We can discuss my salary and all the many things I'll be doing for you."

"I'm not a publisher," I reminded her.

"Yet," she said. "That's one of the things I'll be doing for you."

***

I've heard it said that short men fall in love too easily. Affection from a woman, almost any woman, is taken as a miracle: that this beautiful woman, in spite of my height, thinks I'm grand, and I'd better take advantage of this gift because it doesn't come along more than once in a lifetime and it makes me feel a foot taller, that kind of thing. I like to think I'm wiser than that. And so I'm careful. But here was Heidi Yamada making eyes at me, and I knew I had been careful too long.

Twelve hours later, in my room on the third floor of the Schooner Inn, between the second and third times we made love, Heidi Yamada propped herself onto one elbow and smiled down on my face. The golden candlelight made her face shine, her teeth glow, her eyes sparkle, her hair ripple with ebony luster. I held one breast while I stroked her arm, and the breast seemed to respond to my squeeze.

"Guy," she said.

I kissed her shoulder.

"Guy, I want you to publish me."

"I'm not a publisher," I reminded her.

"We can fix that," she said. "I want you to publish a book of my poems. I don't want any publisher but you. Guy Mallon Books, Publisher. Will you do it?"

Shine, glow, sparkle, ripple. Squeeze.

"You're a poet?" I asked.

"No, but I could be. It's about time I did something with my life. I'm thirty years old, and I've been a professor's assistant for almost ten years, ever since I was an undergraduate."

"Have you ever written a poem?" I asked.

"No, but how difficult can it be?"

I started to laugh, knowing all at once that for the first time in months if not years I was neither lonely nor horny.

"Huh," she said. "You laughin' at me, bucko?"

"No, of course not."

"So you'll do it? You'll publish me? You'll make me a postwar American poet?"

From The Poet's Funeral by James M Daniel. Copyright © 2005 by James M. Daniel. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means without the prior written permission of both the copy right owner and the publisher of this book.

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