Enoch Dillon’s posthumous collection of poems are full of life.

Enoch Dillon wrote so well he made it look like fun, and he made it look easy. It’s clear that he enjoyed writing; and his skill may have come easy to him, but not many poets could wield words as cleverly and as meaningfully as he did. What remains in the poems he left behind is evidence that he cared about doing it right. His metered, rhyming poems prove that formal verse (whether witty doggerel, such as “Politically Correct,” or as serious as a sonnet) is still worth reading. His free-verse poems, like “Rail-Splitter,” are also a pleasure to read, and they’re written with the same meticulous care. His poems about the art and practice of writing prove how much he cared about his craft.

The sense of humor in this collection is perfect. What makes it work so well, is Mr. Dillon’s own surprising take on things we take for granted. It’s a pleasure to read his observations on hats, in “Overhead,” for example. And his tall tales are lovely whoppers, like “Rodney’s Tale” and “The Murder in the Larder.” But he could get dark and deadly, too, as he does in “Immigrants, 1911.” His narrative poems, like “The Cold Warrior Remembers Aunt Irene” work as insightful short stories. His Shakespearean rendering of MacArthur’s quarrel with Truman is masterful. Many of the poems also deal with huge, cosmic issues—astronomy, weather, and especially theology. He wrote with wry religious insight, again always original and surprising. “Cosmos Koan” is an economical gem.

Enoch Dillon died four years ago, leaving behind a collection that is evidence that a poet—a poet this good—lives on in his work. Recognizing this, his children and his publisher collaborated in bringing his final book to the public. Readers will be grateful to know him as he lived and wrote, and they will be greatly moved by the way he faced his fate in the brave, angry, funny, honest, and revealing poem “Parkinsonians.”

Enoch Dillon, 1925-2008, was an economist for the for the Federal Government until his retirement in 1980. He served in World War II and the Korean War. His poems were published in literary magazines, and he was the author of two poetry collections, The Bicentennial Blues: 200 Years of the American Presidency, and Love, From the Ends of the Earth. A native of Oregon, Mr. Dillon lived in Bethesda, Maryland, where he and his wife raised their six children.

Writing on Your Toes
by Enoch Dillon
ISBN 978-1-56474-523-1
96 pages, paperback, $14.00

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