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David Kirby: Broken Promises

I have met them in dark alleys, limping and one-armed;   

I have seen them playing cards under a single light-bulb   

and tried to join in, but they refused me rudely,   

knowing I would only let them win.   

I have seen them in the foyers of theaters,   

coming back late from the interval   


long after the others have taken their seats,   

and in deserted shopping malls late at night,   

peering at things they can never buy,   

and I have found them wandering   

in a wood where I too have wandered.   


This morning I caught one;   

small and stupid, too slow to get away,   

it was only a promise I had made to myself once   

and then forgot, but it screamed and kicked at me   

and ran to join the others, who looked at me with reproach   

in their long, sad faces.

When I drew near them, they scurried away,   

even though they will sleep in my yard tonight.   

I hate them for their ingratitude,   

I who have kept countless promises,   

as dead now as Shakespeare’s children.   

“You bastards,” I scream,   

“you have to love me—I gave you life!”

Copyright 1995 David Kirby. From Big-Leg Music ( Orchises Press, 1995). Used by permission of the author.

David Kirby’s many books include  Get Up, Please (Louisiana State University Press, 2016). He teaches at Florida State University and lives in Tallahassee.

2 comments on “David Kirby: Broken Promises

  1. Loranneke
    January 26, 2023

    Talk about personnification & pathetic fallacy — yay, David!

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on January 26, 2023 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , .

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