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Two Ruthless Pieces

I.The Man Who Could Do It Himself

This must be done in narrative form. Imagine
A boy with the world before him,
Blond hair (that is, the boy), blue eyes,
And the rest of the paraphernalia for, if not
Light, culture and joy,
At least a wife in the best part of town
And a pretty home
(Which he’d built himself),
And a good name in a sound business, and friends
(Who had built themselves), so that
Our boy could be sure forever or nearly that nothing
Or nearly nothing
Except perhaps war and the fall-out
Would presume to unbuild his self-made, blue-blond destine—
Imagine this if you please, and then
Cast your envious eyes upon his other
And multiple parts: a workshop
Equipped with a lathe, a vise and hundreds
Of Stanley hammers, as well as
A studio, a bar and some hi-fi tweeters—
All of this
Used up to the hilt by our hero who was,
If there ever was,
A kind of a green-thumb character who could
Make what he wanted at will, a table, a fortune—
Are you not jealous?
Hear this. He took some
Canadian Oil last week, some rags, a match,
And his wife, tweeters, the works, and when he had
Got it all going good with his green thumb,
He jumped in himself with a guitar he had constructed
Out of a packing box, a cat, this sort of thing,
And he strummed upon it and sat him down to sing:
            Do it yourself, fol-de-rol, fol-de-rol;
            Be your own man and fate.
            Do it yourself, fol-de-rol, fol-de-rol.
            Don’t wait, and wait, and wait.

II. And His Girl

And there was a similar case of a girl of the highest
And furthest fashion whose passion
For dresses of subtly slubbed silk and nubby linen
And for blousebacked batwing suits of beige meringue tweed
Was insatiable so she filled
All her closets with these as well as with
Beach coats belted and cropped in a bright tangerine,
Loose-sleeved, boat-necked sweaters with blazer stripes,
And shoes bowed in velvet and jewelled
                                                                        and then she
Got in her most complete closet, undressed completely,
Proceeded to pose with a simple brown-colored, loose-capped,
Belted fifth of subtly slubbed Southern
            and six months later
Emerged as a full-page wreck
For Peck & Peck.

These poems appeared in the February 17, 1958 issue of the magazine.