Feeling Good, Feeling Fine
After pleas and persuasion, all the frozen
uniform gestures of prose,
having said my say; my hup and hip,
the closeorder rhythms of dismounted drill,
I have come back alone to naked verse--
a man singing and dancing in the shower.
God knows I have known the deepest cold,
have slept with snow and waked to wind,
to shining wind blowing all the white way
from old Siberia. We huddled then
by little fires, blew on blue fingers,
called coffee more precious than blood.
Goodbye boots and parka. Oh, so long
to the clumsy soupbowl of my helmet.
Pack and rifle, belts and gear all gone,
I hang my dogtags and towel on a nail
to lightheaded, lighthearted, stand
in rosy steam and sing your name
and mine again. O what is a man
singing offkey with pure joy,
dancing loosejointed calypso and highlife,
with no more weight to carry now
that one slight, brightly astonished heart?
Go ask somebody else. I am alive again.
I who was cold to bones am warm and clean.
I who was heavy as a walking bear
am bare of all burdens and briefly free
of fear for now and do not give a damn
who hears my voice and laughs out loud.
Clown or shorn lamb, I have my pride.
But if you happen to laugh, I'll be happy.
And if you choose to clap your hands,
I'll shower you with roses and breathe steam.
I am unarmed. I do not even have a knife.
The letter kills, the spirit giveth life.
By George Garret
Recipient of the 2006 Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize
Reprinted by permission of The University of Arkansas Press
from The Collected Poems of George Garrett.
Copyright © 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1969, 1961, 1962, 1963,
1964, 1966, 1967, 1978, 1981, 1984 by George Garrett.