Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
Officers’ Mess (1916)
By Harold Monro
I SEARCH the room with all my mind,
Peering among those eyes;
For I am feverish to find
A brain with which my brain can talk.
Not that I think myself too wise,        5
But that I’m lonely, and I walk
Round the large place and wonder. No—
There’s nobody, I fear,
Lonely as I, and here.
How they must hate me! I’m a fool:        10
I can’t play bridge; I’m bad at pool;
I cannot drone a comic song;
I can’t talk shop; I can’t use slang;
My jokes are bad, my stories long;
My voice will falter, break, or hang,        15
Not blurt the sour sarcastic word—
And so my swearing sounds absurd.
But came the talk: I found
Three or four others for an argument.
I forced their pace. They shifted their dull ground,        20
And went
Sprawling about the passages of thought.
We tugged each other’s words until they tore.
They asked me my philosophy: I brought
Bits of it forth and laid them on the floor.        25
They laughed, and so I kicked the bits about,
Then put them in my pocket one by one—
I sorry I had brought them out,
They grateful for the fun.
And when those words of ours had thus been sent        30
Jerking about like beetles round a wall,
Then one by one to dismal sleep we went.
There was no happiness at all
In that short hopeless argument
Through yawns and on the way to bed        35
Among men waiting to be dead.

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