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to the whore who took my poems
some say we should keep personal remorse from the 
stay abstract, and there is some reason in this, 
but jezus; 
twelve poems gone and I don't keep carbons and you have 
paintings too, my best ones; it's stifling: 
are you trying to crush me out like the rest of them? 
why didn't you take my money? they usually do 
from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner. 
next time take my left arm or a fifty 
but not my poems; 
I'm not Shakespeare 
but sometime simply 
there won't be any more, abstract or otherwise; 
there'll always be money and whores and drunkards 
down to the last bomb, 
but as God said, 
crossing his legs, 
I see where I have made plenty of poets 
but not so very much 

From Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame
Selected poems 1955 - 1973
Black Sparrow Press, 1986.
First published in:
It Catches My Heart in Its Hands, 1963.