The Going: A Poem

“The ceremony of innocence is drowned…”

The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Since I’m “published” now, you like
the sound of my voice, invite me to read.
We’ll dress up all nine cats,
forget how razor claws
have scratched old screens.
I will seem artsy and tolerable.
I shall be stroked and my tininess
will swell as if my ache
is suddenly political and popular
and staked like ads for congressmen
on front lawns of the main, main drag.

Green grass is gray now, a little
orange in its tint from autumn leaves
and the road seems smaller than before.
I am a fancier label now.
But skin peels in the same sun;
moon is still cracked cuticle.
I wonder if my substance
has sold out to fancy urge—
like a chicken coop looks
back on deviled eggs.
Its feathers didn’t fight the ax.

Am I reading to read?
Or gather fruit from petting rites?
Discover the thought of applause—
and pennies grow from nickels
to dimes to dollar signs.
In the old days of a nobody’s song,
I could write as if I were singing
in a hot shower, straight
at the steam and all four walls.
But towels are now a public drape.
I wonder if I’ll keep my edge and go for going—
not for how the rattle sounds.

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