Excerpt from The Habits of the World by Philip F. Clark


This poem appears in our Autumn/Winter 2021 issue. Buy it today to read the entire issue.

I borrowed the habits of the world,
hoping the lenders would not object
to my perusal.

I was frugal with indecision,
touched and folded carefully, each truth.
I laid them out for choosing.

I wore joy — its pediments high;
I tried on responsibility —
sadly, ripped in places.

Desire was a cloth of the finest loom;
I troubled its impertinent

Forgiveness was a fragile fit.
One sleeve too short, one sleeve too long.
I threaded acceptance between them.

I returned each of these, not less for wear,
marked for

But Love! — the overcoat!
I could not give it back,
too large and heavy though it was.
Larceny! Larceny!
I gladly wore my theft.

Philip F ClarkPHILIP F. CLARK is the author of the poetry collection, The Carnival of Affection, (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). He teaches at City College, New York, where he received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing in 2016. Currently the Poetry Editor of A&U Magazine, work has been published in Tiferet Journal, The Marsh Hawk Press, Tampa Review, Vox Populi, Lambda Literary, and the ‘Phosphorescence’ reading series sponsored by the Emily Dickinson Museum.

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