Monday, November 26, 2012

Kenneth Fearing

No Credit

Whether dinner was pleasant, with the windows lit by
          gunfire, and no one disagreed; or whether, later, we
          argued in the park, and there was a touch of vomit-gas
          in the evening air;
Whether we found a greater, deeper, more perfect love, by
          courtesy of Camels, over NBC; whether the comics
          amused us, or the newspapers carried a hunger death
          and a White House prayer for Mother's Day;
Whether the bills were paid or not, whether or not we had
          our doubts, whether we spoke our minds at Joe's, and
          the receipt said "Not Returnable," and the cash-register
          rang up "No Sale,"
Whether the truth was then, or later, or whether the best had
          already gone--

Nevertheless, we know; as every turn is measured; as every
          unavoidable risk is known;
As nevertheless, the flesh grows old, dies, dies in its only life,
          is gone;
The reflection goes from the mirror; as the shadow, of even a
          rebel, is gone from the wall;
As nevertheless, the current is thrown and the wheels revolve;
          and nevertheless, as the word is spoken and the wheat
          grows tall and the ships sail on--

None but the fool is paid in full; none but the broker, none
          but the scab is certain of profit;
The sheriff alone may attend a third degree in formal attire;
          alone, the academy artists multiply in dignity as a
          trooper's bayonet guards the door;
Only Steve, the side-show robot, knows content; only Steve,
          the mechanical man in love with a photo-electric beam,
          remains aloof; only Steve, who sits and smokes or stands
          in salute, is secure;

Steve, whose shoebutton eyes are blind to terror, whose
          painted ears are deaf to appeal, whose welded breast will
          never be slashed by bullets, whose armature soul can
          hold no fear.

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