Burnt (Reprise)

Nine million times this awful tale’s been told
Nine million times been told, and even more
Nine million women, many men
And others — in between — but then
There fewer be among us keeping score
As kept it was in darker days of old

Nine million girls who could not seem to make
Their restless growing bodies to stay still
Already pressed ‘neath adult care
Sitting primly in a chair
Abandoning their overwhelming will
Sweet love to feel, bright shining life to take

Between young hands, keen eyes eager to see
What miseries and bliss it held in store
Far fields their racing feet to know
Leaving prints upon the snow
There before them: more and always more!
What might there past that just next turning be?…

Nine million spirits could not fairly fit
Themselves into their rigidly cast roles
Whom set to an alternate might
So handily have got it right
But as it was these so creative souls
Tried all their lives to make the best of it

They often lived out on the edge of town
And enviably self sufficient were
Gardens blossomed in their care
So needn’t go too often where
Humiliation they’d so oft incur
In form of some town mother’s sterile frown

But they were tanned and lean from working hard
And taking life with both hands as it came
All uninsured near brethren by
Who might in time of trial try
Halfheartedly to help — to bear the name
But far more likely slow step would retard

In timorous consideration of
Their personal advantage’s refrain:
“Walk softly into injury
Advancing most hesitantly
Recall the inconveniences of pain
And suffer not your loss to those you love!…”

So went their lone but seldom lonely way
Each solitary independent one
Their dreams of love now times of peace
Of silence and of calm release
Past images of laughter and of fun
As distant now as of erotic play

And, as it must, consequent came to pass
The calmness that they’d found shone in each face
E’en midst a fashionable gloom
Or entering a manic room
Not straining with the others to keep pace
Nor seeking to submerge the self en masse

All this regarded was suspiciously
By those who’d early chosen to obey
Found their own spirits able to
Do all that they’d been asked to do
Without the dreadful feeling unless they
Found freedom always would despairing be

And as the habit of the hominid
Has ever been when something falls out wrong
An item carelessly mislaid
Some sickness that they cannot aid
They look then for the ones who don’t belong
Who haven’t done as all the others did

Who may have made their lands attractive, too
And dangerously so themselves appear
Wearing the clothes with easy charm
They sewed themselves back on the farm
For shallow sentiment shedding no tear
No wilting flowers leaning men unto

Frustrated husbands fantasize — anon
Those strong yet silky limbs tangle their own
Yet given are no subtle sign
Of seeing this prospect divine
They mighty tired of wond’ring why have grown —
Their wives just want that brazen hussy gone

Nine million heard the lethal crowd advance
Nine million felt that swiftly mounting fear
In grasp of hardened hands unkind
Nine million wore the fatal blind
Absorbing their despairing final tear
Before the fire began their twisted dance

And when they burnt, the hawkers sold their fare
And parents lifted children up to see
This spectacle of mortal pain
Expecting them to something gain
Somehow so made to better people be
Instructed to of diff’rences beware!

In our own time we have the freedom to
Be beautiful, be strong, be sensitive
Be true unto the stretching soul
Able to manifest the whole
Of life each one of us is born to live
Contributing the human fam’ly to

And it is our responsibility
Diligently in fact to exercise
These freedoms as we daily go
About our business to and fro
Simply because if we do otherwise
Too soon those freedoms ours will no more be

All lost by naught but our complacency
And the desire not to stick out too far
To sit our bodies on that chair
Forgetting any otherwhere
Which might ones corp’rate reputation mar
Reflected in reducing salary

Or at the very least — not yet too loud
That snide remark the water cooler by
The pointed silence, careful cut
The mounting pyre of scuttlebutt
On which to place you desp’rately awry:
The threat’ning murmer of the rising crowd…

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