A. E. Stallings

The City (After Cavafy)

Pacing to and fro
Along the autumn shore
Among the wrack and reek

With your arms clasped behind your back
And sporting your grey frock-coat
Trimmed in black

And your black hat and your lean long-legged stride,
Up and down the strand perusing
The headlines of the tide:

Casualties and statistics, futures, stocks,
The thousand natural shocks,
You clear your throat

Inspecting the ink-black seaweed tossed among the rocks
Like obsolete typewriter ribbons, rusty widow’s weeds,
Scanning the flotsam for

Morsels cast up by the remorseless gossip of the sea’s
Éminence grise,
How elegant you are, everyone concedes,

Gentleman Crow,
With your gimlet gaze, your sardonic beak,
How omnivorous, how sleek.

Life is a joke you crack,
Wry and amusing,
And death a dainty snack.