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Prufrock's Answer

Hank Jones


I sit here waiting for a question that never comes,

As I’ve waited a hundred times before.

You came to me youngish, clumsy, amusing;

You’ve aged before me; the amusement’s grown old,

but the clumsiness remains.

What is it exactly that’s wrong with you?

You are articulate and literate;

I’m always impressed at the breadth of your reading;

You quote me Shakespeare and Donne,

long passages from memory;

You’ve spoken of love before, brought real tears

to my eyes;

And yet when it comes to us, you falter, stumble,

grow listless and dumb

Excuse yourself, clear your throat, stir your coffee

and drink with a gulp.

I once thought you cute in your awkwardness,

Lately you’ve become ridiculous in my eyes.

What a pathetic man you are, Prufrock.

You hide from me, from me and reality

Pretending to ponder grandiose abstractions

Asking universal, meaningless questions.

It all comes down to this:

Show me you are a man. That there is

a spine in that hunching back;

that you can do more than quote gads of poetry;

that you too can create poetry;

that you can love in all its dangerous implications;

that you are not afraid to die for love.

I am no mermaid singing on the beach.

I am a woman of flesh and blood

who wants to be loved by a man.

I am reality and I’ve come calling.

This is your moment, Prufrock.This is what all you life has come down to.

Wake up and grasp me

or drown in your inanity; your worthless

pointless, all too meaningless, life.