Proverbs

By Thomas James Merton 1915–1968

For Robert Lax

1. I will tell you what you can do ask me if you do not understand what I just said

2. One thing you can do be a manufacturer make appliances

3. Be a Man-u-fac-tu-rer

4. Make appliances sell them for a high price

5. I will tell you about industry make appliances

6. Make appliances that move

7. Ask me if you do not understand what is move

8. First get the facts

9. Where to apply? Ask industry

10. Do not expect to get by without Mr. and Mrs. Consumer

11. Man-u-fic-tion

12. I am wondering if you got the idea be a manu

13. MAKE FALSE GODS

14. Apply mind energy they will move

15. Mention one of the others see what happens

16. Now apply that to our problem

17. Try not to understand

18. Be a mounte-fictioner

19. Surpass all others in price and profit

20. Assail the public with lies

21. Home-spun-facts-are-more-fun repeat this

22. Prevent spreading on garments

23. Breathe more than others

24. Supply movement and traction

25. Our epidemix will exceed

26. A homemade appliance: no honorable mention

27. Now you can refer to garments and spread out

28. But there are still more facts

29. For excitement: say whose epidemic may be next

30. Apply this to the facts and see what happens

31. Wear dermal gloves in bed

32. Here is an appliance that will terrorize mothers

33. And fight the impossible

34. Man-u-fac-ture: wear it on your head

35. Beat it here come the mothers

Thomas Merton, “Proverbs” from The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton. Copyright � 1977 by The Trustees of the Merton Legacy Trust. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton (1977)

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Poet Thomas James Merton 1915–1968

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Humor & Satire

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

Biography

A monk who lived in isolation for several years, and one of the most well-known Catholic writers of the twentieth century, Thomas Merton was a prolific poet, religious writer, and essayist whose diversity of work has rendered a precise definition of his life and an estimation of the significance of his career difficult. Merton was a Trappist, a member of a Roman Catholic brotherhood known for its austere lifestyle and vow of . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Humor & Satire

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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