Poems October 2006
A good list
Some nights, cant sleep, I draw up a list,
Of everything Ive never done wrong.
To look at me now, you might insist
My list could hardly be long,
But Ive stolen no gnomes from my neighbors yard,
Or struck his dog, backing out my car.
Never ate my way up and down the Loire
On a strangers credit card.
Ive never given a cop the slip,
Stuffed stiffs in a gravel quarry,
Or silenced Cub Scouts on a first camping trip
With an unspeakable ghost story.
Never lifted a vase from a museum foyer,
Or rifled a Turkish tourists backpack.
Never cheated at golf. Or slipped out a blackjack
And flattened a patent lawyer.
I never forged a lottery ticket,
Took three on a two-for-one pass,
Or, as a child, toasted a cricket
With a magnifying glass.
I never said air to mean err, or obstructed
Justice, or defrauded a securities firm.
Never mulctedso far as I understand the term.
Or unjustly usufructed.
I never swindled a widow of all her stuff
By means of a false deed and title
Or stood up and shouted, My God, thats enough!
At a nephews piano recital.
Never practiced arson, even as a prank,
Brightened church-suppers with off-color jokes,
Concocted an archeological hoax
Or dumped bleach in a goldfish tank.
Never smoked opium. Or smuggled gold
Across the Panamanian Isthmus.
Never hauled back and knocked a rival out cold,
Or missed a family Christmas.
Never borrowed a book I intended to keep.
My list, once started, continues to grow,
Which is all for the good, but just goes to show
Its the good who do not sleep.
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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 25 Number 2, on page 30
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