Friday, May 4, 2007

Never again to open that door

This disquieting Arnold Schnabel sonnet appeared in the "Olney Times" of April 27, 1963, and gives us a hint of some of the factors that might have led to his breakdown earlier that year.

(For links to other inspiring poems from Arnold Schnabel, and to the serialization of his mammoth memoir Railroad Train to Heaven, check the right hand column of this page. Many thanks to the Arnold Schnabel Society.)


I don’t want to go downtown any more;
I want never again to open that door.
Chancellor Street, 13th Street, St. James Place:
Cocktails and chatter; despair and disgrace.
I wander through Leary’s, fumbling through books,
And then through the stamp store, happy as a child;
At Horn & Hardart’s I avoid those idle looks,
But somehow I still hear the call of the wild:
It’s always just one beer, or one Manhattan,
Or so I say, as I approach that certain pub;
But once I sit down all else is forgotten,
As though I’d been struck on the head with a club.
I don’t want ever again to open that door;
I don’t want to go downtown any more.

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