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This poem is taken from PN Review 175, Volume 33 Number 5, May - June 2007.

Three Poems Chris McCully

A Letter to Torquatus

Frankly I don't know how you can stand it -
For months the same broken doors in the kitchen;
The relics of weeks-old meals on the bedspread;
Vitreous stains that haven't received due attention.
But perhaps after all a life should be measured
By the capacity for bearing what its critics call squalor,
And equally, perhaps it's merely over-fussy
Or prurient to find dirt somehow deficient,
Whereas clearly it's a symptom of long-drawn-out resentment
That begins in the classroom, ramifies through families,
Dispatches its lovers late at night to the wine-shops
And will drop its fag-ash even into the open palm
That has begun to beckon towards the final judgement.

You might take it, Torquatus, as a species of sympathy -
Though you'll see only nit-picking antiquity
And tell me robustly to mind my own business.
...


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