Friday, January 2, 2015


           In truth the prison, into which we doom
           Ourselves, no prison is . . .
                                       —William Wordsworth
                                          "Nuns fret not . . . ." 

The steel tube men
breathe shallowly in like an iron lung.
Killer of thought,
the long hours compacted into cubicles like
shelved books, its occupants
neither heave nor sigh in the silence
where the slightest sound
prickles their skin.

They suffocate
on mountains where the particles
of air are too far apart,
and only in compartments compressed
by the pressure of eons do they locate
and instant of themselves.

"It's better to heed than design"
they must have muttered to themselves
sometime on the spaciousness of the roads
that led in so many directions.
They forked over the hours like 
stripped down to the bare essentials,
were rewired and reconstituted like
waterless powder.

The lack of necessity is compelling.
Full throttle ahead, the submerging
and rising of the conning tower
is constancy they can chalk up on a wall.

Leave the boilers for the contractors
who shine up the old ones and sell
them for new. No thought here for profit,
merely the poetry of pure service,
the abstraction of the cloister, the 
counting up till the ten-hour pass,
the apprehension of the 
weight of too much liberty.

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