2001 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award

Winner: “Baggage” by Deborah Warren
Final Judge: X. J. Kennedy


Don’t tell me you expect to find a guy
who comes with just a daypack. That’s enough
to date on, maybe, but -- to marry on?
You’re bothered by a little freight? But why?
Give me a man who’s travelling with stuff,
with serious luggage, not just carry-on --
whole skeletons in Samsonite; who brings
impedimenta -- parents, kids, ex-wife,
outstanding loans. The stained and rumpled things
in steamer trunks and duffles are a life:
The more of it the better. Where you’ve been
and what you’ve brought along -- if you’ve been far
and filled a lot of battered leather, then
don’t call it baggage. It’s just what you are.


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