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Phyllis Gotlieb (1926-)

as I was walking down the street


              1as I was walking down the street
              2who should I meet but my two feet
              3I said how do you do
              4what 's new with you?
              5they said who do you think you 're talkin to
              6we haven't got immortal souls
              7we need a retread
              8I said
              9ha. incomparable wit
            10and kept on walking the dogs

            11as I was hanging round the sky
            12what should turn up but my wall eye
            13and I said how does it look
            14from that far corner of my eyeball
            15through that cockeyed camera?
            16it said
            17this trembling image you discard
            18this shadow of your other self
            19all you despise for its half-sight
            20is all you 'll see one day
            21I looked it straight in the white
            22and I said, better than glass

            23while I was wandering in the grass
            24among the cities of the dead
            25what should I meet but my own head
            26bone sockets, nasal cavity
            27lower maxillary complete
            28I asked the usual
            29what 's your advice, hm?
            30in a bored voice it said
            31the usual: live today
            32I says, that 's all you have to say?
            33I ask for bread, you give me stones
            34it snarled, I 'm tired of chattering
            35what do you want from my old bones?
            36so much for
            37knowing thyself

            38I crouched on the shelf of nothingness
            39without preamble I said nothing
            40without clearing its throat it replied
            41nothing.

            42I stood on my existential feet
            43screwed on my skull tight
            44pulled up my flesh to clothe its nakedness
            45looked hard at nothingness
            46with my shadow eye
            47bought some new shoes and went on walking down the street

Notes

27] maxillary: lower jaw bones.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Copyright The Works: Collected Poems of Phyllis Gotlieb Calliope Press 1978
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Phyllis Gotlieb, The Works: Collected Poems (Toronto: Calliope Press, 1978): 157-58.
First publication date: 1978
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2002
Recent editing: 1:2002/11/3

Rhyme: occasional couplets


Other poems by Phyllis Gotlieb