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AN ELEGY

I regret phrenology's demise —
I have a large and lumpy head,
the sort of skull
that stands one in good stead
with the wild-eyed physic that applies
a caliper to bones as if Mercator
mapping continents, thereby divining
sentiments, my humors, wry and wan,
and graphing my proclivities
for homicide, civility, and marzipan.

If, on the Amazon
my head should shrink to minute size,
divorced from shoulders,
going on with sewn-shut eyes,
could some latter-day phrenologist surmise
the furies of my former, larger state?
Or would I, reduced to pocket real-estate
have only tiny passions —
bric-a-brac and clothing fashions,
unable any more to fulminate?

It's hard to say. The sturdy package of my head
is rock for wreckage, and half a wreck itself —
breached at the eye by unseen dread,
at the ear by words unsaid. Unmapped, unfelt
by any kindly charlatan,
the planless pilot house of a modern man.

      — Scott Murphy