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Joseph Mills


He writes the last stage direction,
then disappears from the London scene
returning to Stratford-on-Avon
where he tends the lawn, hangs out at Panera,
argues with his wife about bedroom furniture.
Occasionally people point him out
as a guy who used to be a player,

or they’ll notice the plate — “Bard #1”
but he’ll pretend not to see them
as he drinks decaf with the other retirees,
the ones who have managed to survive,
and they kvetch about the government,
how things aren’t what they were,
the sorry state of the globe.

From Exit, Pursued by a Bear (Press 53, 2016).
Used here with the author’s permission.


Joseph Mills is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he holds the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities. Joe’s published work includes six volumes of poetry, and four nonfiction books. He also writes a column called “String Figures” for ChangeSeven Magazine in which he details his thoughts about trying to learn piano in middle-age. Learn more about Joe at


Post New Comment:
Clever idea and great tribute to Old Will
Posted 04/23/2016 10:50 PM
What a fun poem. Thanks!
Posted 04/23/2016 03:51 PM
Great fun, but yeah Ross ( no decaf for moi either)
Posted 04/23/2016 11:16 AM
Oh - what a concept, Will as a gray-haired retiree. I laughed out loud.
Posted 04/23/2016 08:32 AM
Posted 04/23/2016 05:41 AM
Play on, Will and Joseph!
Posted 04/23/2016 05:39 AM
Ross Kightly:
Ah yeah - the worm in the Rose too! Great stuff - thanks. (No decaf for moi!)
Posted 04/23/2016 03:14 AM
Very fun and clever. Like the allusion to the second best bed.
Posted 04/23/2016 02:11 AM

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