In Order To by Kenneth Patchen

Apply for the position (I’ve forgotten now for what) I had
to marry the Second Mayor’s daughter by twelve noon. The
order arrived three minutes of.

I already had a wife; the Second Mayor was childless: but I
did it.

Next they told me to shave off my father’s beard. All right.
No matter that he’d been a eunuch, and had succumbed in
early childhood: I did it, I shaved him.

Then they told me to burn a village; next, a fair-sized town;
then, a city; a bigger city; a small, down-at-heels country;
then one of “the great powers”; then another (another, an-
other)—In fact, they went right on until they’d told me to
burn up every man-made thing on the face of the earth! And
I did it, I burned away every last trace, I left nothing, nothing
of any kind whatever.

Then they told me to blow it all to hell and gone! And I blew
it all to hell and gone (oh, didn’t I). . .

Now, they said, put it back together again; put it all back the
way it was when you started.

Well. . . it was my turn then to tell them something! Shucks,
I didn’t want any job that bad.

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46347/in-order-to

Date: 1954

By: Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972)

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