Collected Poems - Michael HartnettI have managed to keep . . . ‘ by Michael Hartnett is April’s Poem of the Month

‘I have managed to keep . . .’

I have managed to keep
hysteria at arm’s length;
I have managed to sleep,
and wake with a partial strength
undone at the first door
I knock on that very day,
begging an editor
for some literary pay.
I have suppressed a scream
in an empty cinema,
celluloid its thousandth ream
not kept the hounds at bay.
And within such strictures
the heart survives
and learns to live
with second-rate pictures
and second-rate hysteria.
And within such strictures
I have a second-rate heart
finding itself in a minor part,
knowing what it is to be loved
and not love back with equal strength.
Still, I have kept hysteria
at arm’s length.

by Michael Hartnett
from Collected Poems (2001)

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