Oh, the Places You’ll Scuttle: The Lovesong of Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea

Oh, the Places You’ll Scuttle:
The Lovesong of Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea

Today is your day.
You’re off and away!
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening spread out against the sky,
It’s opener there
In the wide open air;
You’ll look up and down the streets, look ’em over with care
Through certain half-deserted streets
The muttering retreats:
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
[Time to turn back and descend the stair]

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked;
Some windows are lighted, but mostly they’re darked,
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent;
You’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street
Into the corners of the evening.

To an overwhelming question…
Do I dare?  Do I dare?
Do you dare stay out?  Do you dare go in?
How should I presume?
And how should I begin?
How much can you lose?  How much can you win?
Shall I part my hair behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
For a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

Do I dare to eat a peach?
NO!  That’s not for you!
I’m sorry to say so
But, sadly, it’s true.

Oh, do not ask “what is it”?
Whether or not you like it
The women come and go
Let us go and make our visit.
And then things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew
Swell a progress, start a scene or two.


There will be time indeed, because you’ll have the speed—
Except when you don’t—
In a minute there is time—
Because sometimes you won’t—
To say: “I am Lazarus come from the dead,”
Is not easily done
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say, “you’re not in for much fun”;
Should I go back around and sneak in from behind?
“That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets,
Of lonely men, in shirt sleeves, leaning out of windows,
Glad to be of use,
I grow old… I grow old…
Headed, I fear, toward a most useless place?
The Waiting Place…

In the room the women come and go
Waiting around for a Yes or No
Or waiting for their hair to grow
[With a bald spot in the middle of my hair!]

All that waiting and staying—
I have heard mermaids singing
Where the Boom bands are playing
Into the corners of the evening.


And the magical things you can do with that ball—
[That is not what I meant at all]
Would it have been worth it, after all,
With the whole world watching you win on TV
Before the taking of toast and tea?

But on you will go
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas,
On you will go
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me,
On you will go
After tea and cakes and ices
On you will go
Though your arms will get sore,
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl
After the skirts that trail along the floor—
[I have known them all!
And in short, I was afraid!]

And will you succeed?
I am no prophet—
Yes indeed, you will succeed!
Almost ridiculous at times, indeed—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!

and yet time for a hundred indecisions

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down;
In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town
And walk upon the beach
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

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