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
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?
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
38I crouched on the shelf of nothingness
39without preamble I said nothing
40without clearing its throat it replied
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
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:
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2002
Recent editing: 1:2002/11/3
Rhyme: occasional couplets
Other poems by Phyllis Gotlieb