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Dr. Grammar


by Vince Gotera

— an acrostic sonnet for Jim HiDuke

Frost once called his poems "little bits of
Order"—smoke rings wafting in a darkened
Room, the pen glinting in lamplight, sweet love:
Jim would sketch, scratching a woman's face on
A grocery slip, a face like rain in sky.
Morning drizzle, clean swing, white ball arcing,
Edges the green, a yard from the hole, just shy,
So close, always so close. The fish of legend
Hooked, almost in the boat, then the line . . . snapped.
In the darkened room, that trout would resurrect,
Dull shine snagged now on a line of words—grammar,
Unity, syntax—Jim's days always carved, shaped,
Kindled, like Jack London's last match, last cigarette,
Earning love, life through tight devotion to order.

This poem was published as a memorial to Jim in the
North American Review (January–February 2004).