Ambition

I am haunted by the failures of great people:
how, inevitably, they were tossed out of Harvard,
eviscerated in newsprint,
cold-shouldered by forgotten matriarchs,

and I have to think
(you know where I’m going with this)
short of a criminal act,
how could I compete with the sad sack
who was Abraham Lincoln
before he was Abraham Lincoln,
the tubercular Eugene O’Neill,
the idiot Einstein,
the rejected Malcolm Lowry,
the incandescent torn and lovelorn
and thirsty,

except by standing on point
in front of our two sleeping
ginger tabbies
with a scallopshell lampshade for a hat,
wrapped in a pale blue polyester brocade,
and think
(keep it quiet, cats are sleeping)
could they do this?

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