"Blues in Half-Tones, ¾ Time"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
May 31 2005 6:11 AM

"Blues in Half-Tones, ¾ Time"

Click here to listen to Rita Dove read this poem.

From nothing comes nothing,
don't you know that by now?
Not a thing for you, sweet thing,
not a wing nor a prayer,
though you got half
by birthright,
itching under the skin.

(There's a typo somewhere.)
Buck 'n' wing,
common prayer—
which way do you run?
The oaken bucket's
all busted
and the water's all gone.

I'm not for sale because I'm free.
(So they say. They say
the play's the thing, too,
but we know that don't play.)
Everyone's a ticket
or a stub, so it might as well
cost you, my dear.

But are you sure you lost it?
Did you check the back seat?
What a bitch. Gee, that sucks.
Well, you know what they say.
What's gone's gone.
No use crying.
(There's a moral somewhere.)

Former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Rita Dove received the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Obama. Her latest book publications are Sonata Mulattica and The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry.

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