An Upright Man By Lawson

 “Here is an upright man,” they said

Come walking on those bebop legs,

Up that long walk, smile affixed,

Affixed by buttons to his head.

So when they beat him (as they did)

It dare not fall an inch’s slip

But keep its place, that smile, remain

Transfixed like ink’s permanent stain.

 

“Surely, you see, we taught him well.

Give him a collar of gold to wear.”

 

“But is he free?” we ruined asked.

 

They laughed, “Maybe, one day, indeed,

Only today we just parade

Him ‘bout for one and all to see:

Behold! Your model of reform

Upright upon his two right feet.”

 

He had that bit of skip to step

One sees, though as he passed we knew

Inside (where they could not see)

He crept, bent back on hand and knee,

His soul properly trained to heel,

Like hopeless dogs who seek the leash

To hang themselves at master’s feet,

And do it with such style.

 

While we, we wretches, ignored, we lay,

Bodies broke by brutal hope

Too weak in arm and leg by years’

Decrees they swore were true “reform.”

 

Reform.

 

Reformed bodies bent into such

Grotesqueries of what stood once,

But now could only lay and lie

As we have all been trained to do.

But Brother, Ah Brother – There!

Deep inside our hearts, we stood!

Watching this man go slinking by,

Watching him creep before their eyes.

For while he crawled, this thing they loved,

Deep inside, there, we stood.

Hearts racking our closed rib cages

With limbs made of true straight bone.

Again and again we cried, “Arete!”

For deep inside, we still were true.

  

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