July 2022 Am I Ready To Change?

  1. Who me?
  2. Why would I want to?
  3. What I’d like to change is …

            by Richard Hugo (1923-1982)


by Richard Hugo (1923-1982)

I can’t let it go, the picture I keep of myself

in ruin, living alone, some wretched town

where friendship is based on just being around.

And I drink there a lot, stare at the walls until

the buzzing of flies becomes the silence I drown in.

Outside, children bad mouth my life with songs

their parents told them to sing.  One showers

my roof with stones knowing I’m afraid

to step out and tell him to stop.  Another yells,

“You can’t get a woman, old man.  You don’t get a thing.”

My wife, a beautiful woman, is fixing lunch.

She doesn’t know I dream these things.  She thinks

I’m fine.  People respect me.  Oh, she knows all right

I’ve seen grim times.  But these days my poems

appear everywhere.  Fan mail comes.  I fly east

on a profitable reading tour.  Once in a while

a young girl offers herself.  My wife knows that, too.

And she knows my happiness with her is far more

than I ever expected.  Three years ago, I wouldn’t

have given a dime for my chances at life.

What she doesn’t know is now and then

a vagabond knocks on the door.  I go answer

and he says, “Come back, baby.  You’ll find

a million poems deep in your destitute soul.”

And I say, “Go away.  Don’t ever come back.”

But I watch him walk, always downhill toward

the schoolyard where children are playing ‘ghost,’

a game where, according to the rules, you take

another child’s name in your mind but pretend

you’re still you while others guess your new name.

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