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But Once

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Only the once I spotted him,
Drawn to my study window light,
Black-flagged wings and scarlet trim,
A hawk-moth king in regal flight.

Only the once, at crack of dawn,
Eyes full of sleep I stood and spied
Two fox cubs rolling on the lawn,
Mock fighting by a vixen’s side.

Only the once, at five card stud
One Soho night of smoke and plush ,
I dealt a sight to freeze the blood —
A gambler’s royal-running-flush.

Only the once, far out at sea
Beside the boat, a spuming whale
Rose up and cast his eye on me,
Then dived to drench us with his tail.

We’re born, we die, and in between
We tread the old familiar stair,
Only a few things I have seen
But once — men value what is rare.