When the first half of Hamlet ends,
the schoolkids rise, pull on their jackets,
and gather their trash as their teacher
says wait, the play’s not over, there’s more.
The kids look at each other in disbelief.
More? There’s already been a murder,
a ghost, incest, and worst of all,
the rejection of a devoted girlfriend.
There’s even been a play-within-a-play,
which means they’ve seen not one
but two plays this evening. In life,
the number of beginnings is equal
to the number of endings, but in art
there are so many more endings
that we can’t even imagine it.
Hamlet was sent to England with
the two men who were to kill him,
but he discovered the plot and killed
them instead. And now he’s back.
He’s mad. Isn’t that an ending?
What did you think he’d do,
take up his robe and staff and start
preaching non-violence? Nabokov
says a man once lost a cufflink
in the wide blue sea, and twenty years
later to the day, he was eating a fish,
but there was no cufflink inside.

David Kirby

David Kirby's collection The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2007. Kirby is the author of Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which the Times Literary Supplement of London called “a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense.” His latest poetry collection is More Than This.