O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

American Life In Poetry


December 19, 2019

I've been asked if I believe in ghosts, and my answer is, "Well, now, there's very little fun in NOT believing in ghosts." Here's a poem by Austin Smith, who lives in Illinois, about being encouraged by a father to believe in something that becomes real in the telling.

White Lie

Christmas Eves our dad would bring

Home from the farm real hay

For the reindeer that didn't exist

And after we were finally asleep

Would get out and take the slabs

Up in his arms and carry them

Back to the bed of his pickup,

Making sure to litter the snow

With chaff so he could show us

In the morning the place where

They'd stood eating, their harness

Bells dulled by the cold, their breath

Steam, all while we were dreaming.

We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Princeton University Press, "White Lie," from Flyover Country, (Princeton University Press, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Austin Smith and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.


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