after Jane Kenyon’s “Happiness”
by David Tucker

Happiness is a stubborn old detective who won’t give up on us
though we have been missing a long, long time,
who stops in towns where we once lived and asks about us
in a grocery where we shopped ten years ago, who visits
the drugstore in the city where it always rained and walks
the hallways of that house by the river, leafing through
the newspaper left on the table, noting the date.
When the search party has called it off, when the dogs
have been put up and our names stuffed in cabinets
at the back of the station house, happiness is still out there,
staring up at a road sign in a distant town,
studying a map by cigarette, weeks away, then days.
A breeze smelling of the river enters the room though
no river is near; the house is quiet and calm for no reason;
the search does end, the detective does finally sleep, far away
from anything he imagined, his dusty shoes still on. 

“Detective Story” appears in David Tucker‘s wondrous collection Late for Work, winner of the Bread Load Writers’ Conference 2005 Bakeless Prize (and published by Houghton Mifflin, 2006), available at Amazon. com, where copies are available for just one (1) cent, plus shipping. If you love poetry or aspire to write it, Late for Work by David Tucker is a must-have, must-read book! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Journalist and poet David Tucker grew up in Tennessee. He earned a BA at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he studied with poet Donald Hall. Booklist critic Donna Seamanhas described his poems as “deceptive in their sturdy plainness . . . inlaid with patterns as elegant as the swoop of swallows, and images as startling and right as a cat’s bowl of milk shimmering as its ‘moon god.’” His debut collection, Late for Work (2006), was awarded the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize by judge Philip LevineDonald Hall, a former US poet laureate, appointed Tucker a Witter Bynner Foundation Fellow in 2007. A newspaper editor for more than 25 years, Tucker is an editor for the Metro section of the Newark Star-Ledger newspaper, where he was part of the team that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting. (Source:

Illustration: “Film Noir Detective” by igrayne01 (via