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No Country You Remember


But for the steady wash of rain,

The house is quiet now.  Outside,

An occasional car moves past the lawn

And leaves the stillness purified.


I find myself in a dark chair

Idly picking a banjo, lost

In reveries of another time,

Thinking at what heavy cost


I came to this particular place,

This house in which I let my life

Play out its subterranean plot,

My Christian and enduring wife.


What if I paid for what I got?

Nothing can so exhaust the heart

As boredom and self-loathing do,

Which are the poisons of my art.


All day I resurrect the past.

This instrument I love so ill

Hammers and rings and, when I wish,

Lies in its coffin and is still.


I dream of winter mornings when

Between bare woods and a wrecked shack

I came down deep encrusted slopes,

A bag of dead birds at my back,


Then let my mind go blank and smile

For what small game the mind demands,

As dead time flickers in the blind

Articulation of my hands.


I know you must despise me, you

Who judge and measure everything

And live by little absolutes—

What would you like to hear me sing?


A strophe on the wasted life?

Some verses dealing with my fall?

Or would you care to contemplate

My contemplation of the wall?


I write from down here, where I live.

In the cold light of a dying day,

The covered page looks cold and dead.

And—what more is there to say


Except, you read this in a dream.

I wrote nothing.  I sat and ate

Some frozen dinner while I watched

The Late Show, and the Late Late.


Robert Mezey



From Collected Poems: 1952-1999, University of
Arkansas Press, © 2000.  Reprinted by permission
of the author.

by Grapholina

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