Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


This is a Wonderful Poem

Come at it carefully, don't trust it, that isn't its right name,
It's wearing stolen rags, it's never been washed, its breath
Would look moss-green if it were really breathing,
It won't get out of the way, it stares at you
Out of eyes burnt gray as the sidewalk,
Its skin is overcast with colorless dirt,
It has no distinguishing marks, no I.D. cards,
It wants something of yours but hasn't decided
Whether to ask for it or just take it,
There are no policemen, no friendly neighbors,
No peacekeeping busybodies to yell for, only this
Thing standing between you and the place you were headed,
You have about thirty seconds to get past it, around it,
Or simply to back away and try to forget it,
It won't take no for an answer: try hitting it first
And you'll learn what's trembling in its torn pocket.
Now, what do you want to do about it?

Credit


From Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems by David Wagoner. Copyright © 1999 by David Wagoner. Used with permission of the poet and the University of Illinois Press. All rights reserved.

Author


David Wagoner

Born in 1926, David Wagoner is the author of numerous collections of poetry and he served as a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets.

Date Published: 1999-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/wonderful-poem