Shoes rot off feet before feet
Rot, and before feet
Stop moving feet
Rot, rot in the
Napoleon was wrong, an army
Marches on its feet. If
It has them. If
They have shoes.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought for shoes.
It is hell to die barefoot, unless,
Of course, that is the way you were raised.
People who are raised barefoot are cheap,
But we who wear shoes are dear, and
All wars are righteous. Except when
You lose them. This
Is the lesson of History. This—
And shoes. On rotting shoe leather
Men march into History, and when
You get there take a good look around, lost
In the multitudinous gray portieres of beaded
Rain, and say, “Mot de Cambronne, this
Now you know what it is:
History is what you can’t
Resign from, but
There is always refuge in the practice
Of private virtue,
Or at least of heroism, and if
You get stuck with heroism you can, anyway,
When the cameras pop, cover your face,
Like the man who, coming out of the D. A.’s office,
Lifts his hands, handcuffed, to cover his face.
You can do that much.
Melville, ruined, sick, acerb, anent
The Civil War, said: “Nothing
Can lift the heart of man
Like manhood in a fellow-man” and
Sociologists should make a study called “Relative
Incidence of Mention of Heroes in News Media
As Index to Gravity of a Situation.”
Sociologists can do that much.
And when the rainy season is over
There will be new problems, including
The problem of a new definition of virtue.
Meanwhile, talk as little shit as
Possible, and remember
There is more than one kind of same.
This last is very important.
November 11, 1965