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New Priorities

My preoccupation

is no longer empires;

I tiptoe in darkness to witness

your blanket’s rise and fall.

Then,

bending over the slats of your crib

that remain silent sentries

through the night,

I become reacquainted with a God

I knew in my youth

and say a wordless prayer

of hope for your future,

which is the future of all the world,

while listening

for the sweetest sound I have ever heard:

your breathing.

“New Priorities” was first published in Poet Lore (Volume 66, Number 3). It was included in the collections An Original Sin (Briarpatch Press, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1974) and Summer Days with Daughter (Copyright © 1999 by Eugene Platt). It was reprinted most recently in Ireland of the Welcomes (March/April 2019). It appears with a complementary photo on the poet’s website: www.plattwrites.com.


Eugene Platt, an octogenarian, grew up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a region that tends to engender in writers a strong sense of place and which continues to inform much of his work. After serving in the Army (paratrooper), he received a BA in political science at the University of South Carolina, an MA in English (with creative thesis in poetry) at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and a Diploma in Anglo-Irish Literature at Trinity College Dublin. As a young poet he was active on the reading circuit, giving over 100 public readings of his work at colleges and universities across the nation. Also, while at Trinity College, he was honored to read in the inaugural Dublin Arts Festival. His poems have appeared in various publications, including Poet Lore, Tar River Poetry, South Carolina Review, Southwestern Review, English Record, Icarus, Bitterroot, American, etc., and some have been choreographed. He lives in Charleston with his Montreal-born wife Judith, corgi Henry, and cat Keats.