In the picture I wish I’d taken
Twenty years ago, we look like birds

With beards and teeth, our graduation
Robes and hoods flapping black against the

Sky. Our hair is still ungrizzled, our
Eyes excited. It’s the last time most

Of us will ever see each other.
In the picture I wish I’d taken

Twenty years ago, we look like ghosts
Of selves we haven’t yet become. May

Sunlight makes us sweat beneath our robes.
Do ghosts sweat? A foreign head of state

Gave a speech and received a degree,
Perhaps not in that order. I don’t

Remember any of it, only
The sun, our beards, and teeth, maybe a

Handshake and a scroll that wasn’t real.
The degree came later through the mail.

In the picture I wish I’d taken
Twenty years ago, I’m not smiling.

 

GEORGE FRANKLIN works as an attorney in Miami and teaches poetry workshops in Florida state prisons. His poems have been most recently published in Salamander, B O D Y, Matter, Scalawag, Sheila-Na-Gig, Gulf Stream, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Amsterdam Quarterly, The Wild Word, and translated into Spanish in Alastor, Nagari, and Revista Conexos. New poems are forthcoming in The Threepenny Review and Cagibi. A bi-lingual edition of his poetry, translated by Ximena Gomez, is forthcoming from Katakana Editores.