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

 Thomas  McGrath

Biography

For some fifty years, the late Thomas McGrath produced a prolific array of titles, encompassing poetry, novels, books for children, and several documentary film scripts, including uncredited work on the eloquent and exhilarating Smithsonian film about the history of flight, To Fly. But McGrath is primarily a poet, and although "important contemporary poets . . . proclaim him as a major voice in American poetry in the last three . . .

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SUBJECT Social Commentaries, War & Conflict, Life Choices

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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