July 08, 2000
From Velocities, New and Selected From Velocities, New and Selected Poems 1966-1992
Stephen Dobyns

The Way it Goes
or, The Proper Use of Leisure Time

Now all my words are bricks
and I have built myself a small penitentiary.
I still refuse to be penitent but
take pleasure in diddling the idea.

If my cat continues to become human,
I will kill it and rid myself
of its echoes. The cat
understands this and will become more human.

Instead of barred windows, there are mirrors;
instead of reflections, there are doubts.
They wear belted and double-breasted raincoats,
sharp hats drawn over the eyes.

I have sent my cat on an errand of mercy,
a few coins and a note around his neck
to the Pope. My doubts tell me he is lounging
in a bar waiting for the King to die.

With an intense effort, I turn the bricks
back into words. They flutter and fall
like dying bats. Here is one called
Help, and another, Haste.

I refuse to accept them or see them as mine.
This is a poem about being alone. Posted by schampeo at July 08, 2000 02:13 AM