Not a third that walks beside me, But five or six or more. Whether at dusk or daybreak Or at blinding noon, a retinue Of shadows that no door Excludes.--One like a kind of scrawl, Hands scrawled trembling and blue, A harelipped and hunchbacked dwarf With a smile like a grapefruit rind, Who jabbers the way I do When the brain is empty and tired And the guests no longer care: A clown, who shudders and suddenly Is a man with a mouth of cotton Trapped in a dentist's chair.
Not a third that walks beside me, But five or six or more: One with his face gone rotten, Most hideous of all, Whose crutches shriek on the sidewalk As a fingernail on a slate Tears open some splintered door Of childhood. Down the hall We enter a thousand rooms That pour the hours back, That silhouette the walls With shadows ripped from war, Accusing and rigid, black As the streets we are discolored by. The crutches fall to the floor.
Not a third that walks beside me, But five or six, or more Than fingers or brain can bear-- A monster strung with guts, A coward covered with hair, Matted and down to his knees, Murderers, liars, thieves, Moving in darkened rows Through daylight and evening air Until the eyelids close, Snapped like the blades of a knife, And your dream of their death begins. Possessors and possessed, They keep the bedside wake As a doctor or a wife Might wait the darkness through Until the pale daybreak-- Protectors of your life.