The Unsung Song of Harry Duffy

By G. E. Murray
Pure veins of bogus blue-blood and such fancy hungers
~
In the end no surprise of reports of you dying younger than your gods
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Kicked back in the classic toilet scene
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With a spike in your arm and twelve large in pocket
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Thanks to a lucky day scamming the dumb Social Services folks
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It’s a human thing, pants at your ankles, leaving unclean
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Because life’s road is only one night in a bad motel
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Harry, you could play basketball in your bare feet, and win
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You could name all the provinces of Canada
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And simultaneously scour the Social Register
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For the names of those sad and silly girls you wanted to get right
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You relished autumn leaves and ignited inglorious schemes
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Deconstructing the idea of prep-school Friday sunsets
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In lavish October, stealing among faculty hors d’oeuvres and sherry
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All the while creating your own hooligan oeuvre
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With your others off to Yale, Colgate, Brown
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Night after night, alone in L.A.
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Seeking better quotas, vistas, cushion, heroin
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And that last tricky exit to the Santa Monica Freeway
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In one more borrowed car with one more borrowed fiction
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Oh yes, you must have been laughing
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And spitting back at the boldface of Pacific wind
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Cruising the left coast on sheer gall
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But mostly, at 3 a.m., in the local playground, Harry
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You played solitary ball
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And dreamed of final seconds in a distant game
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You drove to the sacred bucket with a fury
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Slick crossover dribble, and then burst to the pull-up jumper
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No harm, no foul, nothing but net.
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But all alone, in the heart of West Hollywood, Harry,
~
You jerk, you bricked the last shot.

G. E. Murray, “The Unsung Song of Harry Duffy” from Arts of a Cold Sun. Copyright © 2003 by G. E. Murray. Used with the permission of the poet and the University of Illinois Press.

Source: Arts of a Cold Sun (University of Illinois Press, 2003)

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Poet G. E. Murray

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Friends & Enemies, Living, School & Learning, Activities, Relationships, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Death

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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