Issue # 13
June 16, 2000
The Last Stamp
By Rich Wilhelm

As promised, this week’s Dichotomy delivers the second and last poem on stamp collecting I’ve written, The Last Stamp. I was driving into work one morning in 1998 when I remembered something Elvis Costello once said about record collecting. He said something to the effect that he’d grown tired of collecting records and that perhaps he’d acquired “the last record” in his collection. This seemed to me to be an interesting and somewhat poignant commentary on how things that used to mean so much to us at one time in our lives grow to mean very little to us as we get older. I started thinking about this in terms of my long-abandoned stamp collection and I scribbled out The Last Stamp before my workday started that morning.

I certainly will not claim that the following is great poetry, but I like it because in the space of a few lines, I feel like I captured a tiny part of my life.

The Last Stamp
I don’t remember
what the last stamp I added to my collection was.

It may have been
a recent U.S. commemorative saluting
the Texas sesquicentennial
or, a “Celebrating 50 Years of the Thumb Tack”
first day of issue cover.

It may have been one of those 3-D “animals in the wild” jobs from a
country with a name like Qatar or Umm al Qaiwain.
You know, it was probably one of those
ubiquitous and worthless
purple queens from Great Britain
or green queens from the Netherlands.

All I know is that, sometime in the late 1980s, after years of

selecting and sorting
hinging and hoarding
collecting and counting

countless bits of paper previously licked by human
tongues around the globe,

I sold my stamp collection
for twenty bucks
and used the proceeds
to go see Debbie Harry live
at the Chestnut Cabaret.


(Please feel free to email to others who may be interested or to print hard copy for them but remember: The Dichotomy of the Dog is copyright 2000 by Rich Wilhelm. If you plan on making a bazillion dollars from this piece of writing,
please let me know so I can sue you or something.)