On my face a foolish scar’s the strongest thing,
above the right eyelid, as though carved by a shiv;
bound to win me small parts in gangster films,
you'd reckon: the heavy at the back
who never says a word but glowers scarishly.
In truth, the fruit of a drunkard’s stumble
against a bathroom tap; the stuff of farce but
simple farce could never have primed that forward shove,
that shame, like a peevish Providence:
Mend your ways, you gowk, or take this and more!
The scar, the Narbe of my German days,
unfilmed, uncelebrated, confronts me now
in the shaving mirror, an imp’s gift.
It’s a picture that changes with mood and circumstance:
the rogue's boastfulness, the idiot’s debauch,
then simply a feature, cut into the bark of age
like a measuring notch. But when I write this
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