Song of the Self and Asides

By Matthew Harrison


Song of the Self


I come into being
in a flurry of attention
learning to
look after
myself and
find my own
way in life
the middle
years even
quite a bit
of it and
some wealth
and experience
and offspring
along the way
without too
much effort
and thinking
that perhaps
it will go
on and on
like this for
quite a while
when in another sudden
flurry of attention I end





It is the chance remarks –
Unthinking, casual, spontaneous –
That are most revealing
Of the speaker and his time:
Remarks made in the confidence
That they will be understood,
And will connect the reader
With the unfamiliar –
Sir Philip Sidney explaining how
We laugh at a cripple;
Caesar on how the Gauls
Torture the widow of the prematurely deceased,
As we would his slave;
Winston Churchill’s
If the British Empire should last a thousand years;
Conrad’s Captain McWhirr
Who would not take the ship out of its way
To make a group of Chinamen comfortable.

These remarks
Resting on assumptions assumed to be shared
No longer reassure
But, rather, provoke disquiet,
Queasiness, or outright revulsion,
And date the work
In our eyes.

Yet the wheel of fortune and fashion
Which we call progress
Turns and continues to turn,
And today’s remarks
About equalityhate speechLGBT relationships,
And other cherished values
Of the early twenty-first century
May soon seem as antiquated
As they already do
Under the forty-fifth President
Of the United States.




Matthew Harrison lives in Hong Kong, and whether because of that or some other reason entirely his writing has veered from to literary to science fiction and he is currently writing poetry.  He has published pieces in all of these genres.  Matthew is married with two children but no pets as there is no space for these.

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