“My Moral Life” by Mark Halliday
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
My Moral Life
Two years hence. When I'm ready. After one more set of poems about my beautiful confusion. After I've read Anna Karenina and Don Quixote and the first volume at least of Proust and one big novel by Thomas Mann— say three years. Three years hence: after I've written an essay about the word "enough" and after I've done something so delectable weaving together phrases from Henry James and Bob Dylan and after I've written an amazing meditation on Luis Buñuel and after I've spent a month in Frankfort, Michigan being very real and thoughtful and full of perspective and fresh cherry pie then— then— in four years at the most— I see it there ahead of me casting a silver shadow back upon me now, bathing me in its promise, validating the self that will arrive at it in four years or less (maybe just two years?)... Glimpsing it there is sometimes like already living it almost and feeling justifiably proud. Water pollution and toxic waste and air pollution; the poverty of black people in my city; the nuclear arms industry; in my moral life these things are not just TV, they push my poems to the edge of my desk, they push Henry James into a sweet corner, they pull me to meetings and rallies and marches and meetings and rallies and marches. There I am in a raincoat on the steps of City Hall disappointed by the turnout but speaking firmly into the local news microphone about the issue, the grim issue. When I'm ready. Four years from today! Silver shadow
from Tasker Street, 1992
University of Massachusetts Press
Copyright 1992 by Mark Halliday.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of University of Massachusetts Press from Tasker Street. Copyright 1992 by Mark Halliday. For further permissions information, contact Ralph J. Kaplan, Permissions Manager, University of Massachusetts Press, PO Box 429, Amherst, MA 01004.
About the Poet
Poet Mark Halliday (1949- ) earned a BA and an MA from Brown University, and a PhD from Brandeis University. Halliday has published several collections of poetry, including Little Star (1987), selected for the National Poetry Series; Tasker Street (1992), winner of the Juniper Prize; Jab (2002); and Keep This Forever (2008).
Learn more about Mark Halliday at The Poetry Foundation.