Marvin Bell

Song Of Social Despair

Ethics without faith, excuse me,
is the butter and not the bread.
You can't nourish them all, the dead
pile up at the hospital doors.
And even they are not so numerous
as the mothers come in maternity.

The Provider knows his faults—
love of architecture and repair—
but will not fall into them for long:
he can't afford the adolescent luxury,
the fellowship of the future
looks greedily toward his family.

The black keys fit black cylinders
in the locks in holes in the night.
He had a skeleton key once,
a rubber arm and complete confidence.
Now, as head of the family, he is
inevitably on the wrong side looking out.
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