Cane • Phillip Dacey

If the handle
is a U-turn curve,
you can use it
like a vaudeville hook
to pull yourself off

the stage of your life.
Morning, noon, and night;
four legs, two legs, three legs:
now you’re the answer
to a riddle though

you feel like a question.
And is a cane
not a question mark,
the black dot beneath it
the little rubber tip for security

in a slippery world?
Imagine the artisan
whose handmade personalized canes
tell the lie that
dependency is beautiful,

the kind of lie poems tell,
like this one you are reading.
Stop leaning on it now
and throw it away,
like a cane off a bridge.


Philip Dacey is the author of eleven full-length books of poems. Two books of his poems appeared in 1999, The Deathbed Playboy (East. Wash. U. Press) and The Paramour of the Moving Air (Quarterly Rev. of Lit.). Previous books of poetry include The Boy Under the Bed (Johns Hopkins, 1981), How I Escaped From the Labyrinth and Other Poems (Carnegie-Mellon, 1977), and Night Shift at the Crucifix Factory (Iowa , 1991). He has also published books of poems about the painter Thomas Eakins (2004) and the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1982).