, October 01, 2022

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Passing Through


  •   1 min read
Passing Through
Photo by Michelle Ding on Unsplash

Intro by Ted Kooser

If at times your world seems flat and unin­ter­est­ing, I rec­om­mend mak­ing a card­board viewfind­er with a postage-stamp sized win­dow. Then look at what’s around you through that. I think you’ll be pleased and sur­prised by how much you can see when the rest is pushed out­side of the frame. This poem is from my book Kind­est Regards, pub­lished by Cop­per Canyon Press.


By Ted Kooser

I had driven into one side of a city,
and through it, and was on the way out
on a four-lane, caught up in the traffic,
when I happened to glance to my right
where a man stood alone smoking,
fixed in the shade of a windowless
warehouse, leaning back into a wall
with one shoe cocked against it,
the other one flat on the pavement.
He was beside me for only an instant,
wearing a short-sleeved yellow shirt
and gray work pants, as the hand
that held the cigarette swept out
and away, and he turned to watch it
as with the tip of a finger he tapped
once at the ash, which began to drift
into that moment already behind us,
as I, with the others, sped on.


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 Ted Kooser, "Passing Through," from Kindest Regards, (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Ted Kooser and the publisher.  Introduction copyright © 2022 by The Poetry Foundation.


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