Was it Shakespeare or Dorothy Parker

A poem by Ben Mitchell

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Was it Shakespeare or Dorothy Parker

who said the only transgressions one truly regrets,

in the end, are the ones one forgets to commit?  (?)


Who would have guessed that here —

halfway through my life —

I find myself, having

accomplished nothing of which I dreamed

as a child. I still remember

smoking one cigarette after another

outside that bar with, Jesus,

what the hell was her name?  And there

in the shadows, I could feel her

wanting nothing more than to surrender —

that sensual gravity, two objects

in orbit — but I

I snuffed out my cigarette

and strolled to the car, knowing you and I

were different, way beyond that feral,

innate betrayal. Even now,

cataloguing the bodies of strangers seems

poor compensation for the sacrifice

of one’s honor.  But this is not

a requiem to youth, but

a eulogy for the man I never became.  Yes,

I will never be an Olympic

figure-skater, but still I imagined

my life to be archetypal — something more

than a modest salary — something noble, not just

a random collection of dissipating ions, but essential,

like clouds.  I never dreamed

I’d spend the weeks struggling

to get to the next week,

a defective slave to commerce.  If I

could go back and speak

to myself – that cocky little fuck –

the things I’d tell him. Of course, he’d

never listen.

He hated people like me.









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