response in reverse to Auden’s “A Walk After Dark”

we find our minds turned
to minor categorizing, as of birds
or stars, planets, plants—
though we still would count ourselves young
we discover how set in our ways
and full enough of age

overfull of death and decay
(the broken always with us)
as another crisis enwraps the world—
we want to feel and do more
with no guilt about it
or being called hypocrite by the young

or worse, a Victorian, having passed
beyond the ability to impress them
with our decent, ordered lives—
so I find at dinner nothing
but exhausted, plummeting defeat
more clouds in the forecast

Playing with today’s prompt from I used only the first three stanzas of Auden’s poem.



The girl looks a lot like you
red hair (but dyed), the nose-ring
of rebellion and my pang
for her parents pulls up short
in self-excuse—I want to say
they are not like us
but can we know anything
of how? of their heart-tides
the thousand-faceted diamond
of one soul in one frail body
or its shattering fault

It’s the same old lava pit, one slip
from the beam and we’re lost
in boiling regret. Can we not
spend your lifetime in fretting
over who and what and why?
your path finds its shape