the love song of j. archy prufrock

for Cara

let s go somewhere tonight i said to mehitabel
how about those oyster shell restaurants
i hear they have good eats
oysters she said i like oysters
i know a real smoky dive place archy she said by the river
i went there once with this gent i met
i could ve told her i wanted culture
because i do
but you don t get culture in a place like that
then mehitabel looked at me and asked
what s the matter with you
nothing i told her
the sky i said
the sky looks like it s unconscious
what she said
the only unconscious is me if we don t get some damn grub
now you have me thinking of oysters
i can t eat the sky archy
what is with you tonight archy
she said
nevermind i told her
don t ask me things
let s go see about oysters

in some swank places i bet they talk about michelangelo
not here

you notice a lot of things boss
when you re the size of a cockroach
that yellow smoke on the ground
it s like a london fog
i think
i haven t been to london in this lifetime
or in my last
maybe it s pretty when you are six feet above it
down here though it just makes you cough

i can t remember who else i was
mehitabel says she can remember lots of other lives
that s a lot of memories to have
and a lot of things to have done
you d think she maybe would ve learned a few things

i didn t tell her any of this
what would be the point
it s oysters archy she d say that is the point
maybe it is

i wish i could talk to people about michelangelo

conversation is lacking as a cockroach
nobody wants to know what a cockroach thinks
they d think i was there to amuse them
an ugly thing with too many legs
and not wearing a suit
it s better not to think about that

if i tried they would stare
that hoi polloi hob nob set
they d see me as a specimen
of what i am not sure
but something to reinforce their views

i could tell them the things i tell you
what the street looks like late at night
and the people in it

i could tell them what i know is real
i could tell them fate doesn t care what you do
that old fool pythagoreas
transmogrification is not a meritocracy
no matter what you do or who
you think you are
you could wake up as a cockroach someday
if that does not scare you
then nothing will

it helps a little
to know you are not as important
as you think you are
but it will not help you at all
to know you are as ridiculous
as you fear you are

why couldn t i transmogrify into a crab
i asked mehitabel
if you had said she i would eat you
and feel no guilt about it
i think i d like to live in the ocean
i told her
on the bottom of the sea
tasty she told me
and licked her chops
warningly i thought

we never went inside the oyster place
there was an inviting garbage can around back
i had a peach

we wanted to stay longer
but the tide was coming in