Dan Carpenter


Jehovah’s Witnesses maybe;

The men in dark cheap suits,

Women in Sunday dresses,

This early June Saturday morning cool and pregnant with rain.

Down the steps to the cracked weedy curb they’re coming,

One of the big safe men supporting an old woman, dressed

As if for a funeral, halting, bent nearly double on his arm.

It’s as if her smile’s still seen,

Whether or not her face tilts up;

Joy taps time with her shuddering cane.

“I’m about done,” she is proclaiming to me, ignored

And gone in my car bound for work.

“I have all but made it. I can see over. My last grief

Is below and behind me. It is too late

For me to fail.”



Dan Carpenter has published poetry and fiction  in Illuminations, Pearl, Poetry East, Southern Indiana Review, Maize, Flying Island, Pith, The Laurel Review, Sycamore Review, Prism International, Fiction, Hopewell Review and other journals. A collection of columns written for The Indianapolis Star, where he earns his living, was published by Indiana University Press in 1993 with the title Hard Pieces: Dan Carpenter’s Indiana. Dan  also contributed to the IU Press books Falling Toward Grace (1998) and Urban Tapestry (2002) and wrote the text for the photo book Indiana 24/7 (DK Publishing, 2004).