My Picnic with Lolita
By Jack Conway

I brought the cherries.
I hoped for heart-shaped sunglasses,
a lollipop, from the movie poster.
I walk to class so weary of hearing them talk.
Poetry isn’t literary, I quote.
It doesn’t know the parts of speech.
Write what you know, I say,
trying to make it sound new.
She tells me her parents died,
at a picnic, just like this.
“Lightning,” she says, and I think,
Billy Collins beat me to it already.
“Lie down,” she says, “Take your coat off.
I’ll rub your back. I did for Nabokov.”
I do as I am told and think,
this is why he invented her and I invited her.
Someday, she will wish to be pretty one more time.
Later, at my desk, I feel a shooting pain up my arm,
a tightness in my chest. So this is my death.
Here. Now. With so many papers still to correct
and wish I could have died at my picnic, with Lolita,
by lightning, instead.


Jack Conway’s newest book of poetry is, Life Sentences. His work has appeared in:
The Antioch Review, The Columbia Review, Yankee, The Land-Grant College Review,
The Paumanok Review, RALPH, The Peregrine Review and The Norton Anthology of
Light Verse. He is an instructor at the Sarah Doyle Fiction Writers’ Workshop at
Brown University.


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