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from A Manual for Living

Know What You Can Control and What You Can't

Undress your wish to direct your nevertheless.
            Your chant of self-promo—just cant—
                        your face—a faltering race

away from that withered fate.
            What others think
                       is a sink- 
                                    hole of jitters that drinks you

to fretting—and you’ll miss the dance.
           So what if you live in a mosh pit of who
                      did what to whom and what you blat

about someone will be blared about you. Why not
           abide inside the flicker of mind, a companionable
                      controlled clime  (your own thermostat, pre-set).

Power is such a fickle hour, mean wealth
            shackled to itself. Only by
                      attending to what is outside

your purview (repute is a beaut)
            will you be undone.  And that’s no fun.


Stick With Your Own Business


Advice being the first covert vice . . .

                              Stick to your give

(Flick what don’t own
  busy with what don’t moan)

Knowing and attending to what actually disconcerts you
                                    (concerns you)

            Harbor in your before and aft mainsail

Buss thus despite wooziness
(beneath such yarns upon such arms)

By being twice nice is all yours (a nice trice)
tending your own—a Day-Glo ecotone

By the less of this
                               you revel in

            Back to your bowl of sticky rice

By giving up giving in (or out)
be it a broken body’s busyness (sheer hissiness)

            beyond forgiveness.

Care for What You Happen to Have—There is Nothing to Lose


So what if your beloved has died
            or moved away, your possessions
            repossessed for what you cannot pay.

As long as your breath’s chest falls
            then rises: Go. Water the ferns
            of the brood you’re in. Groom your fussy
griffon. Smooth your rugose skin.
            Voyage to that Dead Sea inn
            where all your past lovers exfoliate

and float away. What you have is what you seek—
            what you failed to find, let be
            another’s gold-mire.

Observe the blue dragon
            may be purple-winged. And that peach pie
            you’ve been saving for guests:

Stick two forks in. Now go call your son.


Bio: Sharon Dolin is the author of five books of poems, most recently: Whirlwind (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) and Burn and Dodge (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008), winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry. Sharon Dolin has been awarded the 2013 Witter Bynner Fellowship by the Library of Congress. Other poems from A Manual for Living  have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Spillway,  and the Spoon River Poetry Review. She is on the poetry faculty of the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y and directs the Center for Book Arts Annual Letterpress Poetry Chapbook Competition in New York City. www.sharondolin.com


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