Gone Away Blues

By Thomas McGrath 1916–1990 Thomas McGrath
Sirs, when you are in your last extremity,
When your admirals are drowning in the grass-green sea,
When your generals are preparing the total catastrophe—
I just want you to know how you can not count on me.

      I have ridden to hounds through my ancestral halls,
      I have picked the eternal crocus on the ultimate hill,
      I have fallen through the window of the highest room,
      But don’t ask me to help you ’cause I never will.

Sirs, when you move that map-pin how many souls must dance?
I don’t think all those soldiers have died by happenstance.
The inscrutable look on your scrutable face I can read at a glance—
And I’m cutting out of here at the first chance.

     I have been wounded climbing the second stair,
     I have crossed the ocean in the hull of a live wire,
     I have eaten the asphodel of the dark side of the moon,
     But you can call me all day and I just won’t hear.

O patriotic mister with your big ear to the ground,
Sweet old curly scientist wiring the birds for sound,
O lady with the Steuben glass heart and your heels so rich and round—
I’ll sent you a picture postcard from somewhere I can’t be found.

      I have discovered the grammar of the Public Good,
      I have invented a language that can be understood,
      I have found the map of where the body is hid,
      And I won’t be caught dead in your neighborhood.

O hygienic inventer of the bomb that’s so clean,
O lily white Senator from East Turnip Green,
O celestial mechanic of the money machine—
I’m going someplace where nobody makes your scene.

      Good-by, good-by, good-by,
      Adios, au ’voir, so long,
      Sayonara, dosvedanya, ciao,
      By-by, by-by, by-by.

Thomas McGrath, “Gone Away Blues” from The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems, published by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press. Copyright © 1972 by Thomas McGrath. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems (Swallow Press, 1972)

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Poet Thomas McGrath 1916–1990

Subjects Social Commentaries, War & Conflict, Life Choices