They spent my life plotting against me.
With nothing to do but cultivate themselves,
but to be there, aligning their shadows,
they were planning to undo me,
wanting to own me completely.
They have marched through the rooms,
their presences litter the surfaces
close at my elbow calling attention.
When I sleep they begin with their meetings,
when I leave home they hold a convention.
The minutes, the notes, the chairman
calls order, the lamps signal aye. When I die
they'll start in on another,
easy at first, learning his ways.
Now they're gone, taken from me, good luck.
If I kept them I'd never be free. I'd die
and have to begin picking everything up,
all the waste paper, baby teeth, beards,
I'd have to go back for the fingernails.
So I'm shut of them, all the gossip and malice,
the tables, the chairs with their jokes on me.
All the prying. the scandals. The telephone
stored it all up. the books lied to me.
That's why I came here, bringing nothing.
There was nothing to do but leave things.
I saved only a few: smells of tobacco
and blankets, a dream of a waterfall,
a length of ribbon, my name, my number,
the holes in my suitcase.
Ken Smith's Other Poems
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