Self-Portrait, 1969

He's still young—; thirty, but looks younger—
or does he? . . . In the eyes and cheeks, tonight,
turning in the mirror, he saw his mother,—
puffy; angry; bewildered . . . Many nights
now, when he stares there, he gets angry:—
something unfulfilled there, something dead
to what he once thought he surely could be—
Now, just the glamour of habits . . .
                                                                 Once, instead,
he thought insight would remake him, he'd reach
—what? The thrill, the exhilaration
unravelling disaster, that seemed to teach
necessary knowledge . . . became just jargon.

Sick of being decent, he craves another
crash. What reaches him except disaster?

Frank Bidart, "Self-Portrait, 1969" from In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965-1990. Copyright © 1997 by Frank Bidart. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, All rights reserved.

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Source: In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965-1990 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)
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