|←Poems by Robert Ervin Howard||Repentance
How is it that I am what I am
How did I come to fall?
Who was the man my soul to damn
Black in the sight of all?
Who was it came in my virgin hood
And in some evil hour
Turned all my life to bad from good
Bruising the tender flower?
I cannot remember the fellow's name
I had long ago forgot;
I was young and my blood was flame
The person mattered not.
I was hot as a blazing brand
Blood and body and nerve
Ripe to be plucked by the first man's hand
And any man would serve.
I have had my day, I have had my fling
Men have bowed at my knee.
I sit in the bars where the harlots sing
To sailors hot from the sea.
Sallow my cheeks and my lips have faded
Life's roses slip my clutch
But my blood is still hot and still unjaded
I can thrill to the deck-hand's touch.
Still I thrill to the hands of men
I love the contact yet
The breath that is laden with wharfside gin
The scent of tobacco and sweat.
Bristly jowls on my painted cheek
The obscene, whispered jest,
Calloused hands that lustfully seek
My out-worn charms to quest.
My by-gone life is dim and far;
I am content with gin,
A slug of wine, sometimes at the bar,
A room for the sailormen.