judge the country
by the majority
or by the minority?
by the minority.
The mass are animal,
in the state of pupilage
"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"
"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."
"You are old," said the youth, "As I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
Pray, what is the reason of that?"
"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment—one shilling the box—
Allow me to sell you a couple?"
"You are old," said the youth, "And your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak—
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"
"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."
"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose—
What made you so awfully clever?"
"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"
Cooking for someone can be loaded with danger.
He'll get here at six and I'm filled with a small fear
of conversation at the table.
I always toy with the edge across my throat,
between the cabbage, the duck and coffee we stare into.
There are many ways to scream.
I've chosen the silent one
because I"m afraid of being discovered as I am, not
who he remembers 20 years ago.
I want to say thing have changed since then.
I've smoked my lungs black and eaten my heart out.
Lost each leaf of hair and seen friends to their graves.
So the real talk is never said.
After a polite time he leaves a bit early.
I want to re-run dinner again
with simpler food, the apartment a little messy.
I'd like to walk right over the edge and say,
'Who we were then is fable.'
But that takes believing we're someone right now.
Instead I sit down to a second meal.
I'm famished from things left unsaid,
go to bed too early, and wake totally
at the national anthem, before the TV hisses
into blue snow.
I get up. I eat again.