The Review that Kills

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The review that kills finds the poet at home
alone on a wintry night, furnace on the blink,
three months into a trial separation,
his best friend - so he thought - departed,
two thirds into the second six-pack,
sifting through better reviews from the past.
Who is this 'crickit' who pens the review that kills?
A fellow amateur failed in love or art?
A woman with impossible standards, an ex-lover with a grudge,
Another expert trying to stake out a claim?
Is it the man who, asked if his journal would consider light verse,
answered "Not as long as I am editor."
After the burial, friends and acquaintances denounce
the review that killed; how a sensitive man
with whom they had shared the six-packs of respite
succumbed to a masterful blow
at his history and quirky humor,
the un-ethnic way he spelled his first name,
how he refused to write mainly for his own tribe
and be one more minor poet
from some mountainous village overseas.

Friends gather for a few drinks and a memorial reading,
of the very work that was savaged,
silently comparing their own poems
to those of the unsung martyr, dead
by his own tippy hand, by something
approaching choice;
while somewhere, in the lull
of one more passing season,
the same devout reviewer reloads —

~ Ron Charach

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