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I Will Not Be Claimed

ISSUE:  Summer 1990
When I am happy, nothing can divide me
against myself, and I will not be owned.
The carnation in the buttonhole above my head
passes me and I do not look up to see who.
The armored truck parks by the coffee shop
and I do not notice how many the money bags are.
Even the rapturous smell of a new perfume
reaches me but I do not look up to beauty.

When I am happy, truly happy, nothing
can separate me and I will not be claimed.
I cling to the grass and will not let it go
and the threats of winter do not convince me.
I linger over the last of the bread and coffee
and I do not notice the cook locking his doors.
The bad news and the books about death
are part of what we live for, when I am happy.

But when I am not happy, I am one of those
who is broken down into parts and stopped.
I am the brain of a human being but not a being.
I am the heart of a man but not that man.
I see the cook closing and it feels like the end.
Whether I am to be happy or unhappy, I see
which it will be as of the morning, after waking.
I see the white stuff and the black stuff and decide.


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