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Here’s a sonnet I started on June 7th. Papsie is what we call my dad:

On Papsie’s 89th Birthday

I’m sitting in the Shamrock Inn
in Copenhagen, where there’s time
and space enough for me to rhyme.
Why do I do it? Not to win
applause, or please my kith and kin,
but rather so my soul may climb
up to the stars, to some sublime
reunion with its long-lost twin.

The two kids kissing to this track
(Mumford and Sons, “After the Storm”)
remind me of the face-down Jack
of Hearts downstairs. When love is warm,
we never dream of turning back;
our only duty’s to perform.

I composed the title last, as I often do, and this was partly inspired by the fact that there were 89 words in the sonnet. In fact, the sonnet amounted to 89 words without my intervention. I only had to count them. The subconscious at work, I think. It was Papsie’s 89th birthday after all.

The title can also be read “On Papsie’s Eighty-Ninth Birth Day”. The acronym of this is “OPEN BD”. The original title has 21 letters and the 21st letter of the poem is a small “C” (which is the letter you find if you “OPEN BD”). The new title has 28 letters and the 28th letter is a capital “C”, immediately followed by “open” (in “Copenhagen”), i.e. the cryptic clue has been solved; “C” is now “open”. There’s an extra gift to “open” too, as the remaining letters in “Copenhagen” are an anagram of “Change”. Perhaps this was a numerical/linguistic effect created by my subconscious. How else to explain it?

Anyway, it’s a nice anagram, and no doubt one my dad has come across, seeing as how he’s a great solver of cryptic crosswords. We share an interest in wordplay, as well as chess and bridge, but I leave the crosswords to him, and he leaves the poetry to me.

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