Malvina Reynolds: Song Lyrics and Poems  

The Runners in the Street

Notes: by Malvina Reynolds; copyright 1967 by the author. From page 92 of the collection "Inscriptions on a Ginger Jar," printed in the songbook The Muse of Parker Street.

Not much, O Lord.
Just to have life as it was yesterday,
To grind along my dull and tiresome way,
With wry resentment my most common mood,
With minor discontent to salt my food,
And some small appetite
For morning light.
Not this one single ache I have become,
My total and my sum,
An ambulant grief
Demanding instant, absolute relief,
Grabbing at anything to ease its pain--
Usually a hot poker.

My prayer, like any prayer, is vain.
Along the dark streets of this town
And on many a country road
Walk lonely ones who bear
Their weight of panic, seeking a ditch or a stranger's stair
Where they can set it down,
To leave it there.
They pray,
And walk, and walk, and still they bear their load,
For it is they.

Prayers, theirs or mine
We can define
As an articulated sort of cry,
Learned when, as children, they could summon aid
When they were hurt or were afraid--
But now there is no mother by.
Only the street
Along which they propel their frantic feet,
Running to find the dull laborious yesterday
That led to dreamless sleep.

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This page copyright 2006 by Charles H. Smith and Nancy Schimmel. All rights reserved.

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