I Would Let You Know

In Poetry by

(Golden Shovel1, after W. H. Auden)


It’s serious, you know, but there’s still time.
Caution’s no crime. You’ll act someday, you will.
“You could have done more still,” whispers from the future say.
Ice slowly melts away, and you answer nothing.

Your car sits puffing at the traffic light but
it takes too long to shut off the engine. I
do the same, I will not lie, though we’ve been told
the air cannot hold our waste. The children ask you:
what did you do when you could? The seas are rising so.

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Copyright © 2019 Robert Dawson.
Image Credit: Smog, by Simone Ramella, Creative Commons BY 2.0

Robert DawsonRobert Dawson teaches mathematics at a Nova Scotian university. His stories have appeared in Nature Futures, AE, and numerous other periodicals and anthologies. He’s an alumnus of the Sage Hill and Viable Paradise writing workshops.

  1. About the form:
    A “Golden Shovel” is a word-level telestich: the last words of each line form a quotation from another poem. Terrance Hayes, the inventor of the form, named it after the Gwendolyn Brooks poem that he quoted. Here, Dawson has used a line from W. H. Auden’s “If I Could Tell You.”