The Poet and His Poem

by DILYS LAING
LOOK at the weird, non-integrated creature,
quite canceled and subtracted from himself,
prowling the streets and searching for his own meaning.
He thinks himself superfluous: an error
in the community’s computing.
Suicide, he thinks, is service to his city.
Yesterday, writing, he was happy and whole.
He had the sense that what he did was good,
nor wished to end a self that served so good an end.
Now, Citizens, what will you give for him?
At his own estimation, not a penny.
He’d give himself away, gladly, to Phlegethon.
But look again. We have a transformation!
Somewhere along the way he stubbed his toe
against his own value, He’s wielding a pencil!
Hang out your banners, City! Your poor son,
who thought himself an orphan, beams like a politician
newly elected. He shakes off Lethe
in little drops like a gay spaniel, and he shines
with usefulness. His walk’s iambic.
Make way, you bankers, for a busy man!