William Hart- Smith

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A fly! in my office room
six floors up.
A mid-winter fly, a thin one, a starved one.

He is well worth a poem,
an excuse to break silence
after three months' abstinence.

I know I should not write
poems about flies.
People tell me I should write about human beings.
- "How can you write about flies
when human beings are starving and oppressed!"

This fly is starving and oppressed.
He is starving because my office
has almost nothing in the way of food in it.
He is oppressed by the coldness of the season, and the
although he doesn't know it,
that he is a very special fly,
a fly with a mission.
He has to survive this winter through
so that the tribe of flies can survive.

A very small fly to be carrying such a burden.

People will now say I am heartless
writing about a starving and oppressed fly
when people are starving and oppressed.

They assume at once because I write about flies,
and landscape, and fish,
I am heartless where people are concerned,
that I care nothing and do nothing about oppressed
and starving people.


Never being stuck for an argument,
the acuteness of my sensibilities
where this fly is concerned
should give some indicatio of the extent of my concern
for starving people. I am not sensitive
in certain directions only.

And what am I doing about it?
That's my business... and my busyness.

I also love poetry, and writing poems.

Sit down. Let me alone.

For the many people who think I am heartless
for writing about flies, fish, and cats,
there are just as many who dismiss me
because of my particular
political or religious affiliations,
whatever they think they are.

You tell me!

Such people are concerned with everything
with the exception of poetry.

Which doesn't prevent them holding forth about it,
and telling me what I should do.

Three days now, and my fly is still here
alone, in my office, six floors up.
He orbits the room as if pleased to see me
when I unlock the door at nine a.m.
He has twice settled on the back of my hand,
from which, no doubt, he dabs
a minute breakfast of Me.

How does he survive on so little sustenance?

I left my morning tea cup unwashed yesterday,
and the lid off a box where the condensed milk is.
Perhaps he is now eating well.
I sincerely hope so.

He marks each day of his stay
with an embossed dot, in brown,
on the lip of my plastic light shade.
There are now three
all within a space of one inch,
which is further proof flies have enough intelligence
and spirit
not only to survive
but to negotiate vast areas of space,
relatively speaking,

and find their way back again
to the precise point of departure.

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