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The ugly duckling remained ugly
its whole life but found others
as ugly as itself, I guess that’s the message.
Smoke rises from the heads in the backyard.
Do you think if I hang around here long enough
someone will proffer a muffin,
one skulking shadow to another?
Soon, my shoes will be part of the populous dirt.
Have I learned all the wrong lessons,
the ones you shouldn’t know until
the last dew-clogged lawn is mowed
and the sun goes down on the ruined battlements?
Why was I given a toy train if not
to stage stupendous wrecks? Sure,
I can walk by the sea holding a hand
with as much melancholy as the next fellow,
substituting the cries of slammed waves
for the droll adumbrations of distraught
skeletons, the day taking on the sheen
of a stone removed from the mouth
and skipped between the breakers jubilant and sunk.


Source: Poetry (October 2010)

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This poem originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

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