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Whatever Happened

Text of Poem

When I was young I discovered
a new country inhabited by folk
who lived for my fear and pleasure
in an acorn cup or castle of cloud
or asleep behind a wall of roses.
I walked the paths of Sherwood Forest
or sank underground where a gnomelike smith
forged a sword and I killed the dragon.
I became a prince, then a giant,
I snatched Excalibur from the white hand
of the Lady of the Lake, sat at the
Round Table, rescued my mother from
a witch’s spell, put her in charge
of the King and his men and lived in
the whoop and glory of my own world.

Now on a street of dying elms I puzzle
over the dull prose style of work and worry.
Where did the magic go, the wonder
that armed me with my power each morning,
let me revenge my tears and punishments.
What flip of calendar leaves brought me
to this bow-legged street, this boxlike house,
this mirror where I see an endless stretch
of suburbs, lawns, houses, meetings,
parties, PTA, Rotary Club, golf at four,
bridge at eight, who knows the time.

I let the princess die, the giant win,
the wizard destroy the castle, the witch
survive to eat the children, I forgot the way
to Sherwood Forest, have never kept my vow
to kill the wolf, find the foot to fit
the slipper. I am charged by myself
with murder, wear dark glasses, wear gloves,
false teeth, paid off with a sports car,
swimming pool, tax exempts, stylish wife,
a butt for statistics, gelded by habits,
indicted and condemned by the voice
of facts.

First Line
When I was young I discovered
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
Great Lakes Review 4 (Summer 1977) 68.
Complete Poems
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Twitter Quote
Where did the magic go, the wonder / that armed me with my power each morning