Unrhymed, unrhythmical, the chatter goes:
Yet no one hears his own remarks as prose.
Beneath each topic tunelessly discussed
The ground-base is reciprocal mistrust.
The names in fashion shuttling to and fro
Yield, when deciphered, messages of woe.
You cannot read me like an open book.
I’m more myself than you will ever look.
Will no one listen to my little song?
Perhaps I shan’t be with you very long.
A howl for recognition, shrill with fear,
Shakes the jam-packed apartment, but each ear
Is listening to its hearing, so none hear.
AT THE PARTY
W.D. Auden (1907–1973)
Before I go, I’d like to have high cheekbones.
I’d like to talk less like New Jersey, and more like Clair Bloom.
And whenever I enter a room, I’d like an orchestra
to burst into my theme song.
I’d like to have a theme song before I go.
Before I go, I’d like to learn to tap dance.
I’d like to play seven-card stud like a pro, not a dunce.
And I’d like Robert Redford, just once, to slide his fingers
down my back from my neck to my waistline.
I’d like to have a waistline before I go.
Before I go, I’d like to win the door prize.
I’d like to be thought of as valiant and brilliant and thin.
And I’d like, when offered a choice between duty and sin,
to not immediately choose duty.
I’d like a couple of offers before I go.
Before I go, I’d like to make things better.
I’d like to be told I’ve been more of a joy than a pain.
And I’d like those I love to know that they are the ones,
if I could do it again, I’d do it with.
I’d like to do it again before I go.
Judith Viorst (1931-)
Like a ghostly apparition the grey blanket covered figure was sitting upright on the wrought iron bench at seven thirty in the morning. Nothing moved. I walked by looking, horrified. How many empty apartments are there in the City of Boston. What has this man done to end up like this – sleeping in a park in ragged clothes with a blanket as a roof. Around him there were some empty plastic liquor bottles. A taller bottle was in a brown bag. A good night sedative at the end of a hot day on the streets of Dorchester. Welcome to Boston.