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A poem by Ambrose Bierce

A Caller

Title:     A Caller
Author: Ambrose Bierce [More Titles by Bierce]

"Why, Goldenson, you're looking very well."
Said Death as, strolling through the County Jail,
He entered that serene assassin's cell
And hung his hat and coat upon a nail.
"I think that life in this secluded spot
Agrees with men of your trade, does it not?"

"Well, yes," said Goldenson, "I can't complain:
Life anywhere--provided it is mine--
Agrees with me; but I observe with pain
That still the people murmur and repine.
It hurts their sense of harmony, no doubt,
To see a persecuted man grow stout."

"O no, 'tis not your growing stout," said Death,
"Which makes these malcontents complain and scold--
They like you to be, somehow, scant of breath.
What they object to is your growing old.
And--though indifferent to lean or fat--
I don't myself entirely favor _that_."

With brows that met above the orbs beneath,
And nose that like a soaring hawk appeared,
And lifted lip, uncovering his teeth,
The Mamikellikiller coldly sneered:
"O, so you don't! Well, how will you assuage
Your spongy passion for the blood of age?"

Death with a clattering convulsion, drew
His coat on, hatted his unmeated pow,
Unbarred the door and, stepping partly through,
Turned and made answer: "I will _show_ you how.
I'm going to the Bench you call Supreme
And tap the old women who sit there and dream."

[The end]
Ambrose Bierce's poem: Caller