Dubin's Dilemma

(With appreciation and gratitude for the life and work of Bernard Malamud)

Plunged deep in poetic effort on this young
Day, not quite dark, but getting colder as my own winter
Inches forward, I struggle for the right words
Like the biographer contemplating complex lives.
Today I face the same dilemma as yesterday,
Only this time without the warmth of a love

That was my sole inspiration to compose love
In return. He is an old, broken man today - not the young,
Vibrant chronicler of life that he was yesterday,
This biographer of mine. It is tragic pity that winter
Freezes his pauperized soul and ices out the well-seasoned lives
Around him. It is because he is at a loss for words

To bring his own self to life that the words
For his famous subjects often elude him like the love
He desparately seeks from nubile female lives
Of his mid-life sexual fantasies - all as young
As his daughter whom he sees as a summer in winter?
It is the biographer's influence to turn yesterday

Into tomorrow - as though the despair of a lost yesterday
Becomes the hope of a richer future through a few select words.
Nature concurs in this as the depression of winter
Melts into a fertile Spring, where seeds of love
Are planted deeply into the center of everything young
And vital. The aged biographer contemplates short lives,

Finding some solace in the fact that he still lives
And can lay claim to an accomplished yesterday,
Even though memories of his own days as a young
Man escape him quietly as do the necessary words
To tell his unhappy story of a stunted love
That never could recover from one long, harsh winter

After another. Am I, too, a lonely winter
Biographer stealing life from other lives?
A parasite that sucks out as much love
From the past as possible and leaves yesterday
Cold and barren? I know, nonetheless, that I need the words
Of the old life-writer, my muse, because I am young;

And my young, unfinished life begrudges me the words
To make my Spring prose of yesterday a Winter
Poem of remembered lives and forgotten love.

James D. Huck, Jr.