“Being Somebody”
By: Edwin Honig

He had need of a way
to be himself
without being himself.

He had so little need
of those who said
they had need of him,

He wanted never to see
any of them again,
though he wouldn’t say so.

He couldn’t say any
of this to them
or to anyone else.

For once in his life
he was satisfied
simply to be.

To be nobody,
nobody but himself,
himself without himself.

He felt empty and full,
not one or the other
but both at once.

He felt chafed like a child
full of flouting wishes,
floating elations.

He felt vague and puffy
like clouds cut up

But drained of hankerings
like a glass of water
a thirsty man just drank.

He considered someone odd
though familiar may have come
to live inside of him.

Being an egotist
all this appalled
but gladdened him too.

Because it meant
he was sheltering someone
who needed a home.

He himself had no home,
flitting from friend
to cousin to stranger

As the occasion demanded,
or urged by the heart,
which he often misread.

He lived everywhere
but at home, where sometimes
he stayed overnight.

The city he’d spent
many years in and where
he was certainly known,

Drew him back
like a smelly old coat
he forgot to have cleaned.

Because it had worn
so badly on him,
he couldn’t give it away

Anywhere he slept
he was at home
if he didn’t overstay.

The city he wished most
to live in was nearby
but quite far away.

NEar enough to visit
or be visited by
old friends and children.

Far enough off
to forget them all
in a week or a year.

He wanted to live alone
in a den-like apartment,
working nights on his thoughts,

Or in a big rambling house
without tenants and close
to the hub of the city.

He would like also not
to live there but still
to call it his home,

Where he could drop in,
surprising himself hard
at work in his study,

Or, having been called away,
finding the place
shrieking in his absence.

He’d like to live there
and in the country as well,
unknown except for

The gas-meter reader
who could recognize him
from that time he allowed

Himself to be home
on the reader’s first
bimonthly visit.

He once wrote a letter he thought
he’d only half written himself,
which ended limply:

“How many empties like me
are there left to pick up
before I die?”

Now he believed the letter
was written completely
by someone else.

Of course he was wrong-
but what if he was
completely somebody else?