While words we pamper and protect
march off in search of meager fame,
these lines like bastard kids collect,
skulking through our notes in shame,

the discards of our intellect,
false starts, limp rhymes, feet bruised and lame,
condemned to suffer in neglect,
half-breeds that we refuse to name

for fear they’ll prove what we suspect:
the damned and saved are much the same.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 21 Number 4, on page 49
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