Moments Like This Make it All Worthwhile

Moments Like This Make it All Worthwhile

West Point Mess Hall -- 
Not Your Ordinary School Lunch Room

It's fine to say that I write for myself. But if it were true, I wouldn't bother to show the poems to anyone. Even Emily Dickinson, at her most reclusive, had an audience of one with whom she shared her poems before rolling them and tying them with a ribbon and stuffing them in a desk drawer. I want to share my poetry, and I want it to mean something to others.

I was at my 40th reunion last week at West Point, and I gave a copy of General Discharge to the son of one of my classmates while we were having brunch in the cadet mess hall. The book got passed around, as books sometimes are, and one of the others sitting at the table flipped through it, came upon a poem ("Inquisition," for those of you keeping score at home), and barked out a loud laugh.

That in itself was marvelous, but then she said, "I have to take a picture of this and send it to my friend." So she did.

I couldn't have asked for a better response--or a better place for it to have happened. Back at West Point, among those who have similar stories to tell. It meant enough to her to share it with someone else.

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