Where I’ll Be Good

By Michael Ryan b. 1946 Michael Ryan
Wanting leads to worse than oddity.
The bones creak like bamboo in wind,
and strain toward a better life outside the body,   
the life anything has that isn’t human.

Feel the chair under you? What does it want?   
Does lust bend it silly, like a rubber crutch?   
Tell a tree about the silky clasp of cunt.   
It won’t shift an inch. It won’t ache to touch.

Let me not cruise for teens in a red sports car,   
or glare too long at what bubbles their clothes.   
Let me never hustle file clerks in a bar.
Keep me from the beach when the hot wind blows.

If I must go mad, let it be dignified.
Lock me up where I’ll feel like wood,
where wanting won’t send me flopping outside,   
where my bones will shut up, where I’ll be good.

Michael Ryan, “Where I’ll Be Good” from New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2004 by Michael Ryan. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004)

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Poet Michael Ryan b. 1946

Subjects Midlife, Living, Love, Relationships, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

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 Michael  Ryan

Biography

Poet and memoirist Michael Ryan was born in St Louis, Missouri. He studied at the University of Notre Dame and Claremont Graduate School, and earned an MFA and PhD from the University of Iowa. Ryan’s first volume, Threats Instead of Trees (1974), won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His second collection, In Winter (1981), was selected by Louise Glück for the National Poetry Series. God Hunger (1989) won the Lenore . . .

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SUBJECT Midlife, Living, Love, Relationships, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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