Portrait Of A Boy

With a violent declaration of his presence he plunged

around the heavy door and entered,

in his own large breeze his coattails flapped,

and from them, tremendously, he felt,

“I’ve just come from somewhere!” enough to shake the

silence in the apathetic bar.

But didn’t and he headlonged into,

“And what I did there–!” eyes that flashed nobility they

did not know they had not earned.

No one turned.

He gave them challenge with a dexterous twirl of perky

porkpie hat,

he knew that he was all he needed to be proud,

suppley lank and all accomplished out,

with careful velvet furrows in his garden-scented thick

black hair;

he’d bathed and dressed his ankles in some purloined stretch-socks,

had glint of modern metal in his Dacron suit, his mohair

shirt was real.

And strong black boots kissed toes of steel.

Black-strapped boots which said, “Here am I, you better

stay and watch me go,

for I go anywhere worth the going,

though there’s nowhere worth the going.”

Knowing so much he took an easy stand and drank a

beer to make his wait seem short,

taut elation sparkled on his eyes,

for he had come through heaving rain, made reflections,

leapt a drain, been asked directions.

Came perplexions.

Watching nonchalantly through the window he felt

contamination from within,

as though his belly were a sieve

in which began to sag and drop

his borrowed filigree of stature, compelling him to

show contempt of all, derisive

in a grimace he had studied long,

staring in a mirror, avoiding telltale entrails on his skin,

hiking brow.

He did this now.

For he had come to be a Master of the curling lip and

profane shrug,

a very Master of the fast dissolve and lie,

a Master of all non-involvement; on his score

lay credits he alone had won, for none had ever asked

him to be great,

he knew, to them, his birth had only been a nuisance,

and yet he’d set himself to be his Master, had pushed


He was all he needed to be proud. He said.

He flicked an ash and drank his beer and in his eyes

appeared the effort of his poise.

His scorn went swarming through the bar,

and when he thought they feared him, half,

he contrived, and gave, a silent laugh, followed by a

wholly unexpected snort,

a loud and adenoid, membrane noise,

a sniff of self-assertion which only gave the salient

clams away; for this he burned.

Pride adjourned.

And in a moment, to his dense confusion, he let loose

this vulgar snort again.

It raised the corners of his lips, he looked as though he sobbed,

it even raised the padded shoulders of his coat.

But none had moved to see his fall, his gall and his disaster,

the knowing he had cared that he be seen.

He knew this caring was his only, and he hoped a passing, sin.

He did not know the word salvation, nor did he know

that Self, his secret, proud and able twin,

had never been. Good God boy.