PASSAGE OF THE YEAR
The Poetry of Alfred de Grazia
A note by the Editor
The poetical tongue speaks in many voices,
only one of which may be "real" poetry. Here is Alfred
de Grazia, speaking as the "real" poet, in fantasies,
affections, hypotheses, vignettes, exclamations, rhythms, advice,
and questions. Otherwise, he speaks as professor of Social Theory
in Government at New York University, where he directs a research
program in representative government, and teaches courses in the
methodology of social science, theories of world order, social
invention, and political psychology.
Professor de Grazia has also taught at the
University of Minnesota, Brown University, and Stanford, and has
lectured at Harvard, Columbia, Gothenberg, Bombay, Istanbul, and
Rome. He has directed a number of interdisciplinary research programs
and recently (1965-66) coordinated an examination of the operations
of Congress by twelve experts. In 1965 he designed and produced
the first Universal Reference System Codex, a computerized information
retrieval system. He is founder of the American Behavioral Scientist,
which he edited for nine years.
Among his published works are Public and Republic
(1951), Values and Science in Administration (1960), Political
Behavior and Organization (1952,1962), and Republic in Crisis
(1965), the last examining the power struggle among governmental
institutions. In 1966 he edited and coauthored The Velikovsky
Affair, explicating the now-famous controversy over academic acceptance
of new theories in science.
Born in Chicago in 1919, Alfred de Grazia was
graduated from the University of Chicago, where he also received
his doctorate after World War II. During the war he served in
Army rank from private to caption, earning decorations for psychological
warfare operations in six campaigns in the African and European
theaters. He has been in politics on occasion, as manager and
advisor. He is married to the former Jill Oppenheim, and they
are the parents of seven children.
PASSAGE OF THE YEAR
by Alfred de Grazia
Quiddity Press, Metron Publications
P.O.Box 1213, Princeton, New Jersey 08542,U.S.A.
Copyright 1967, by Alfred de Grazia
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book
or portions thereof in any form.
First edition, published April 1967
Printed in the United States of America at
the Capital City Press, Inc. Montpelier, Vermont
Web edition: 2000, all rights reserved. Permission
to make more than a single copy of any given poem can be obtained
by addressing Quiddity Press, as above.
The arrangement of poetry hereunder accords
with my wish to speak properly to new friends about my thoughts
through time. Weather is a topic for strangers and for the early
days of the year. Landscapes, animals, and children are subjects
for acquaintances. Characters, intimacies, and fantasies are for
friends, Politics, we may be sure, will strain our bonds. But
death will tighten them and anniversaries will unite us at the
My poems are built to house ideas. I have no
favorite style, even if I may be poor at one and good at another.
I use rhyme when I feel it to be effective; I always pursue rhythms,
but think that some of my rhythms are eccentric, perhaps super-sprung.
I argue that some words may be coined and others may be exhumed;
grammar is important to me, but I enjoy badgering it; reality-control
is absolute for me and that is why much is surreal. I write verse
to be spoken as well as read, would anyone speak it anymore.
I thank Stephanie Neuman, Karl Shapiro, Louise
Shelton, Peter Viereck, Charles Glicksberg, Allen Ginsberg, Jill
be Grazia, Suzanne Farkas, Rosalyne Frelinghuysen, Ursula C. Brecknell,
and George Steiner. Indeed I thank this universe of players and
Alfred de Grazia
Princeton, NJ, USA
The cold careens up
from the pavement,
and sharks at flesh and bone,
biting off all save a
Which floats, delimbed and beheaded,
in the icy winds towards home.
How is it said ?
Calmly, with a new plan for the day.
Wincing, with a shake of the head.
Shuddering, feeling icy fingers.
Awed by the thunder not far away.
Sadly, for a wasted past that lingers, rotting.
Snugly, with the pressure of living lowering.
Angrily, at the assaults of God.
The words are said
at the start
according to how
they are fed
through the heart.
A thousand spots of swallows streaming through the remote blue
Yet the yellow Lord Sun was icily intent upon the downing of my
a hundred yards or so high !
"My kind has gone beyond mere kites, great burning eye,
so the churlish winds that you supervise
have a pitiable crew to tyrannize. Why mortify
a little boy and old man with a thin string,
while a ring of rockets buzzes round you ?"
" I like to ply two games at once,
One of skill, of life another.
Who wins the first may win the other."
There was more to it, He should confess
What sons of his age-long chemistry can suspect:
Nature is brute, and cowardly cuts at
the weak, the harmless, those left behind.
So obvious was my anxiey,
the small boy took the line from me;
all the dives and shivering climbs
just raised his hopes and heightened his glee.
There clouds sag unmoving
and icicles abut below.
The pine needles stick freezing sharp.
If no snowprint points to my door,
patient gloom holds my lonely hand.
Elsewhere clouds muster and disperse.
Sun Flashes upon rain rushes.
Vines spring long and sinuous
and animals sport in perfumed peril.
Alone is alone in frenzied land.
Please, if you must go away,
send me north to root and brood.
Better still, stay, and wreathe
a lei upon my happier mood.
The sky yet serene
sensing its transfiguration.
First a spray of white,
a scout disguised;
then an infiltration-
a fan, a twig,
puffs, a high mist.
And then mark
the great flocks of sheep
countable one by one
trampling the firmament
until far above them
rise great sky-fuls of grey dust.
If that were all
it would be enough,
but a horde below
looks up and changes
its million minds,
some go home,
some postpone while
tensions tremor nerves.
Everyone is embarrassed
when heaven wipes off
its smiling face
with a snotty rag.
Stretching far about,
the fast wind land
sets its fat grey clouds,
a rush to cover ground.
Its rivers snake around
so long their trickles
rattle on pebbly sand.
The earth hugs low
its crops and cows,
but a two-footed thing
is straightly silhouetted
and swings pirouetted
among his nets of poles
and wire boughs,
his roads and rancheros,
he cannot overween
the hot-blowing tufted plains
which bear his works
like the varicose veins
of a timeworn laboring man.
Would you wish a pastorale a la mode,
a sprig of buds motioning a southern breeze to clover bed.
a maid of almond eyes with a basket of flowers,
and a boy with pipe and tweed
the sweet odor of lusty musk ?
It is late to stage so gone a role.
Carried to the nonce by fast machines
between proud columns of trash,
you must hence shut your eyes, my dear,
to the devastated miles of your life.
But share my pastorale. It is
a laid brick wall that fronts upon my single window
which opens only several inches wide
and because it's stuck is never washed.
Winds must howl and beat before they're let to enter.
Nor can the sun abuse me straightaway :
its flashing ray percourses the smog
to a roof that glints to the brick that serves
through smudgy glass to my table
to my eye, to my brain. You see
how complex is my pastorale scene :
seven times removed is the light of my folk and flocks.
Of the lavender flakes of a setting summer sun
smoothening the bricks and warming the air
-- and we breathed long sighs and rested
with our arms crooked beneath our heads.
Our eyes dwelt long upon the enduring mural of our love.
The wall is nothing. What comfort nothing brings !
I, egoist and denizen, possess it.
Where men fill their closets with shoes
and step upon the gas to choke the crowded roads,
I own nothingness -- in a world of everything !
Where intention is the science of science
and all is intended, but the intended fails
or is ugly and embraces in wild reedy
exuberance the distraught and abandoned beauty,
then, like the happy accident of nature,
my wall is beautiful, aloofly unchanging.
The brick stands to be watched forever by an innocent gaze;
it neither asks nor imputes; nor hesitates nor rebukes.
No need to avert an eye or apologize.
It lets itself be seen until satisfied.
Ribbons of snow on sill and sash hold taut the bricks this day.
Work and weather have slit cracks and punched holes
where silver mountings of frost are to be placed.
My fish sizzles on the pan and cuts with a fork
freeing steam to befog the grimy glass
and acrid smells to spread and consort with
the acrid dank of the concrete well below.
Plaintively calls up the unseen cat for the fish.
I have a beady bird's-eye view
of the marching ranks of a cemetery,
crosshatches to the four horizons,
the multitude in grey, some with twisted symbols
and sunken tombs, signs erased, dusty
undefined, the rare young one in salmon pink.
The ever-ready bricklayer fits them to a common lot.
I tend them and know each to be unique
in its pin-pricks and shade, its markings.
and declivities. I tend the flock and gaze
with a stare of peace at my own headstone,
undistinguished, yet tinted with all the world's colors,
fused by fire, blasted by wind, sweated by heat
and watched by the human faces come after me,
for we are never so human, so much ourselves,
as when we look at a wall. A hundred years
have dissolved your pastorale into mine;
the maelstrom of time issues a dragon
whose tail flicks the teacups from your grassy table
when I press my window down upon his flagrant tongue.
Seek ye my wall and pastor our souls upon it.
Queen to be, Queen Bee of India,
trailing sari along a muddy Michigan street,
raw silk of gorgeous pattern abased
in postponement of the revolution.
Round wet brown face,
blend black eyes dotting
the slogans of the mourning dove
for words like drums and bugles;
"Tis too many people, sor;
but ignorance compounded."
But remember your realm Missy Queen!
Remember thy jade bowl of haze that lightening
precipitated a glazed Arabian Sea.
Skiffs walk like flies upon its sheath,
hungering for the fruits de mer beneath.
Crows jet black on white concrete nearby
sit moodily or flap aloft against the paling sky.
Recollect staid victorian stone facades wreathed
by iron balconies with curlicues purled,
that emerge and marshal in British squares
to face the overseas world.
Then sacks of people come alive from night,
uncrumple, unwind, and rewind cloaks,
toilet, wash, comb, and pray in early light.
Then motors begin to hum through quiet palms
and a cow drifts by neatly dressed
for the day. She steps with small feet
from curb to street calmly winking
for the bearded Sikh to stop his car:
O sweet-faced Brahmin
of Brahmins ! Unconfined,
deserved insult to the age !
Who has so much to do that
you should not give him pause ?
Recall how by dry white sun the crowd arrives,
a little of everyone from nowhere,
until avenues and esplanades are packed-
so many folk with little to do,
but needing so much time to do it.
"But see the New India, sor,
the smoke of a stack,
the faraway plane,
the new-bound book,
the drug store."
"The soccer stadium,
the electric wires,
the running water in better homes and public places,
the state auto,
the queue for the whiskey ration of addicts and infirm."
"The international conference. Yes sor,
especially that: experts have come from everywhere
to tell us that we are the New India
and what to do about it."
"Yes, Yes !
Our women, sor-."
Free great, rare, mellifluous queens !
Leaf of vine, chuma, katha,
beetlenut, cardamom, cumin seed;
cloves and saffron, menthol crystals,
scent and seed, jinton. Add gold.
(The rich poor lust for the leaf
of gold in glittering green-wrapped paan.)
Then pop it in your mouth
and you are burned and saved !
Paan at every corner stand
pouring taste from every gland,
black hair, gleaming greasy,
bowels usually somewhat queasy.
Warmth in winter, hell in summer.
Intricate beats from a beggar drummer.
Now night when the moths infold and settle
to the stoops and passages, and all is ruled
placidly by the full moon of the whole city.
Four million souls age another hour
without losing patience, gracefully languish,
letting the few experimenters alone in anguish
cry out their guilt for murdering the sacred cow.
They fever for the dawn of dawns,
but the dawns of old come perfect and soon.
It is a city not for sleeping long.
It is a city fit for the Queen.
O Queen to be, Queen Bee of India,
Remember the realms of your reign !
Cook and sew, make speech and hope.
You are the Siva of many hands,
in the full wheel of life-
the tempting here and now,
the womb of creation,
the drums of the dance,
my peaceful hereafter.
From Mont' Ignota the town stands deeply etched
that starkly explains how ancestral norms
make little of American ways, those
volatile compounds of beliefs incompatible.
The arid geometry prepares its forms
of static opposites, precisely expressed:
as much is eaten of La Testa di Turco*
as of the bread of Jesus Christ.
Scrawny hens scratch a soil compressed
from bitty Grecian souvenirs
and stones that bubble from the ground
to break the teeth of probing plow.
Down brawny mountain shoulders pace the muleteers,
laboriously carrying nothing, winding
round and round the paths of prolonged patience,
grizzle-beards with well-brushed beasts,
with intelligence careful sharp from grinding
on dispersed fields in complex fee simple
and imagining lives of sons and cousins
away in Brooklyn, Perth, and Buenos Aires,
unreached by these bells though faithfully rung
that carry as far as the daily trudge
and catch in echo a donkey's bray.
Absolute sound and absolute silence !
Dire sin and absolution judge
a life of qualities invariable
that cannot perceive my mobile world
of wraiths in winter and smudge.
*The "head of the turk" is a
dessert bun filled with custard.
Glistens the sidewalk like slate
and trees are dripping wet.
The crows are not so noisy,
soaked by a night of rain.
The breeze that lifts the curtain
and slides around the room
has been filtered through space
and dipped in fog.
Sunrise lights a great chandelier
crystal-cut by an antique Geometrician
little known anymore.
Let us go down now to drink Him in coffee.
A decent man who worked hard,
lost no time and garnered cash,
securities too, a cornucopia
that he emptied upon the world
with capitalistic abracadabra.
I never think of him related
but he is closer than most.
My insurance system he founded,
gave me some books to read, I'm sure,
and most of all, now to think of it,
a lake that I've enjoyed.
Driving past its grey or blue
or hard ice, in a hurry, yes,
but with a flashing sight of peace.
Pushing off its grassy bank with a
muddy oar, gay passengers.
Skating, pained ankles notwithstanding,
in and out amidst a crowd
on ice that cracks and thunders in
holding us up. (The air is never cold enough to
arrest all watery motion.)
Picnics, walking, even hopeless fishing.
He cast his nets a fair circle round;
one wishes to do him a good turn too.
But like so many better souls,
he had few needs, and I doubt that even a
prayer would help him now.
Perhaps build someone a pond some day.
You make of it a dance,
in steps, with limits known;
cruel whip is put to nature
so that its rage abates.
But turn your back and
life begins, stops, halting moves,
clings, ebbs, inequable;
the rage of a garden
gnashes through the senses,
in pink blue brown yellow
white purple pink blue
endlessly you see.
What rages in a garden !
Rocks big small sharp
round sharp small big
blossoms and leaves, cook
apothecary dime-store smells.
Erupting passion for variety,
yet you make of it
a true predictive science,
a beast in a strait-jacket.
The restless night issues in the stomach.
Its turgid river of winter mud and
broken ice winds deep.
Through the weakened membrane of sleep
the posthistoric monsters of the street come crashing.
Lit totems beat a false order.
Giant trucks stop and kneel, but
loosened from the strict red eye,
rise and vengefully roar.
How can the soul separate itself
from its tormentors inside and out?
It climbs a pole, crying and spitting at them.
In some moments of silence
(where did the mad brutes go?)
it cranes its neck high in the darkness,
feeling free, with a last small sob,
to think of a little good.
amid the loud desperation.
Where the poet aethereal washed ashore
and another rode a horse of white
stands a beach of sunny sands
now nesting place of body swarms.
If the poets haunt their habitat
they must be high and mighty up
the craggy frowns of marble mountains
thundering down upon the crowd.
At least such fastidious poets would.
There are a few inured to noise,
bred to cabina, prone to muse
between the splatters of a soccer ball,
learning from the lifeguard and little boy
about whose life is whose to choose
to throw away if he may please,
as gelatis are peddled by sore-footed men.
The harassed new poetic race
retracts itself to curse the crowd
for wanting to walk where poets do
or hugs the burned and itching mass sovietically,
a range of themes too tight constrained
for some, who build shortsightedly
worlds in the crooks of their arms,
like Japanese gardens where everything happens,
or like Americans, dream this beach goes on
and somewhere opens to divine spaces
unpeopled. There mountains stoop to kiss
the sea, and the jealous shore pushes
them back each dawn and blushes pink,
where poets can prosper cheap,
without working one way or another.
Moldy green chaos,
glim of hot tired eye
driving a dusty road,
paused now sees
hard sharp vines
stringing straight up
like rigging ropes
to the masts
of derelict ships
that let out verdant sails
tattered and yawning
in the gloom,
waiting to be mended
who stare unseen
from the shrouds
though parrots squawk "Havoc!"
Have you watched
an island from the sea,
a dark, a bumpy eminence
done in seal-brown sands,
with mummied stone or clay,
a steep cliff standing; often
sheep are grazing peacefully there?
The dolphins of your dreams
swim upon its waters
and conceive of hightailing mermaids
with trailing streams of hair,
incite the fire dragons from the caves,
and shake the galleys off the deep rocks.
A liverish hue stains the innocent blue water
that washes against the blood-cake of history-
wrecks and launchings, welcomes and farewells,
in frames of time and shape, sounds and stills.
The boundless sea is rent agape by the prowess
of this lone agent of the problems of God;
here man was born and He could be.
A sash of fog will honor it
and the glint of metal from the sun.
Green and Red Tropical Fire
Flashing by the high window
in the colonial clapboard.
Open-mouthed little boys stare
at the Presence of satanic lust
uncontrolled by the authorities.
Seventy-five and still an eye for les girls,
piercing the steaming monotonous Jersey air
with a whistle glided thrilling up and relaxingly down
to shake the grates of frumpy housewives,
who paused to wonder why a parrot must do man's work.
Then jeering and railing.
"Shut up!" he yelled and he was always right,
for the children were always noisy on the lawn below.
Who will govern them now?
Muttering in his wing at the hospital,
breathing painfully, and
recollecting a life of
flagrant sin and evil thoughts.
Good-bye, Gus, and let "Missed a Saturday Night"
be shrilled among the damned below.
We cracked eighty-five shrimp
brittle in pink and breakable
like crystal-pure and veined
We broke their tails like stems
of champagne glasses stained
their delicate reflections.
of our fat faces in cut sections
shone in them, staring, greedy,
wrecking their translucent worlds
and spitting a bit of them
on the floor where the beer spilled.
Much we care for globes not our own.
Though the balls and strings run like ornamented trees
we grind them down
into a universe of plain energy
that blows away, beery on a burp.
Two things, well-matched, work well together.
Like that black-bird beak darting between great flappers
at tawny bits of corn on alien ground,
leaked from CB&Q car, number 457-6502.
Let us admit, it must be gross
to demand the spectrum when any
two bands of it complement each other.
Confess now, to the fact of profligacy
in the complex arrangements of nature.
The pyrethrum yellow fields of lanky maize, familiar,
burning in the midday sun,
scan the sky for black devourers.
The triumphant caws of the birds as they swoop
and bury themselves dozen upon dozen
in the enfolding sheaths
annoy a world hushed still but for the
barking dog by the house over the hill
Unneeded baroque adornment all !
The essential problem can be solved in a cloud of smog,
amidst dismembered trains and misleading bands of metal,
on dirty cinders shaken by rude noises.
Black shock of coarse hair
shook and tossed.
Big gentle eyes but
uncontrolled gaze-too much
here now, then wildly to the side
in the angular face too small
for the hair, but softened by it
and redeemed by full lips.
At last the softness of the body,
charming island of curve
lost to sight after a moment
in the flashing display of graceful leg
-dainty of foot,
wicked of implication.
A smiling pumpkin
of proud new teeth
and arrogant eyes.
from every side
for being alive.
Stern and rough
we try to be
but are fakirs clear
for him to see.
O youngest son,
so marvellous now
that all is done.
Where the water pooled
aside the stream, in
a pan of sandy bottom
a frog showed,
A bright white cloud
mirrored over him
haloing the face
of a watchful boy.
"How long can I wait?"
thought he. "How long
can he wait?"
The frog was still,
His flanks swelled gently
The cloud drifted on
and the sun shone light,
his belly showed whiter
and the bottom moved up
in magnified fineness.
The frog stayed unhurried.
"I've waited forever.
I can't wait more."
A breeze ruffled
the surface and the boy
thought it had gone.
But the frog reappeared,
calm, crouched, and
clearly to be seen
though it thought not.
"Now I shall slowly,
ever so slowly,
reach for him and
at the last moment
lunge." So he did.
Then his hand slackly held
teeming brilliant grains
that dripped and fell
in delicate splashes.
The angel of refraction
let him feel the
pure water and sands
while her frog doubled
and kicked his legs
smoothly to safety.
The boy stood wondering-
at time, speed,
law, and the silent
oversight of the sun.
The sun retreats from brick and noise
to far off lonely desert plain
and rocky buttes of ruddy stain
that, returning through the window pane,
tug the hearts of little boys
toward lives of free and quiet joys.
June fifth was the day for a turtle hunt;
in the "Susy Q" were Paul, Chris and I,
with me at the oars, Chrissy the stern,
and Paul in the bow sitting high.
The warm, brown lake moved languidly past
bearing leaves, moths, and a fluttering tern.
I sweated a little in the sun of late Spring
to please my officers, who wished to learn
Whether it was true anymore,
if it was really true ever,
that turtles abounded and might be caught
if we silently approached the shore.
So I dipped the oars without splashing or squeaks,
and they were there, all right, like round black bumps,
before diving off the slick wet stumps.
Stuck in the shallows then, we had to push,
poling our oars against the black bottom mush,
while, distracted by failure, the crew grew an ugly mood:
the scow floundered, the sun beat down, and mutiny brewed.
Just in time, a head rose above water.
I saw it before it swiftly disappeared.
I motioned the others and pointed to it.
They saw, and despite our plan, loudly cheered.
I shoved hard once more and the boat lurched about.
Paul glanced down quickly and darted his hands in,
bringing them up, with a toothy grin,
and a turtle six inches across.
The crew was gay, its cargo assured, and
since to those that have is given,
another turtle popped up and dived below;
but not before Chrissy had seen him, and driven
by mighty broad sweeps we streaked after the beast,
as he skimmed below toward a hole.
I leaned over far making a dangerous swell
and grabbed a handful of mud, twigs, and animal.
The day was fine, perfect indeed.
Ducks, glades, trees-all nature was
animated and affably gave heed
to the triumphant ship passing in review.
Back we went at a faster rate,
the current now and with less weight,
for Paul was
swimming down alongside
despite local law and the
scrambled hastily from stem to stern.
Chris set them
right when they needed to turn.
When we jogged into land
and fastened our chain
to the root of a tree, he grabbed
and carried them
home to the fretting crowd.
who hungrily forced the late
hunters to dine,
while the captives, scratching in their
tub of sand, were
eyed from behind chicken legs and
glasses of wine.
What tortured snag in children's souls,
deep knotted node of misunderstanding,
blocks and divides
pure sentiment positive,
so that fathers young and fathers old
must suffer ruthless, curt demanding:
Be this, be that!
Not this, nor that!
(When young) How crude, headstrong, and thick!
(When old) So credulous, deaf, and sick!
Too bad the lagging growth of sympathy,
that tolerates a trait as it disappears,
and miserably reaches for the receding years.
You don't mind my saying-
you can understand-
how a negro's life
can be sadder than it is,
little thing too,
where a dark-as-hell day anyhow
can be worse than ordinarily so.
Still, my Mary Lou,
she's no more woman
than a flower in a bowl,
she's sunbeam though,
a wisp of laughing, oh
and she clung to me
and kissed my hand for
nothing but affection.
You can't imagine that
when you see me like I am.
And I know it's nothing more
than most any girl will do,
to take a handsome boy and hug him,
and let him lay her down.
Now Mary Lou is still okay,
she laughs, see, more than ever
and holds my hand just like before,
but nothing more can come of it-
I know she's on her way in life.
The little child curled up in her.
has stretched and called for the whole world
and run out fast to join it all.
Rough daddy, dear daddy,
is nothing much today.
You'd think there was
a death, my wife died,
or I lost another job,
or I'm drunk and sentimental,
but honest it's only me,
my real me, that's gone;
the precious look my baby had
for only me is lost.
The trouble is in believing
my sorrow's something personal.
They think my soul is
in my race and race is
in the lawyer's hands,
but mine is free
and trapped in me,
for a child whose angels
left her to be.
Her years no more are trifling,
her eyes show clouds of knowing
behind the sunshine.
Maybe you know what I mean,
that it's sad, sweet, and deep.
Feet that push a bike
and hands that grip a ball
hirsute, hoarse, dapper,
but never a phone call.
Until today while away,
sweating on a playing field,
It had to be his father
who answered for him
"Hello" and heard a sweet
voice ask "Is he there?"
"No"... "Oh"... "Any
"No"...as if there were one really.
"Shall he call?" "No." "Oh."
"Good-bye." That's it. Begun
new levels of existence;
the old world and age are done.
One night towards dawn,
in the middle of nowhere,
my car stopped running,
out of gas.
A sign was plain,
by Sycamore County"
Road, not car.
There were more sycamores
than people. No one
in the world was awake.
I was worried.
If I woke them up,
they'd be mad at me.
Who was I to them?
Their dog would sic me.
I would fall in a hole
and trip over a can.
When you are in trouble
you are no good to anyone.
The dipper points to North;
the trees weave a road.
With stars and sycamores,
steering is no problem.
Ahead the road is clean
and nothing, too,
though slush is all around.
I can only wait
for a dazzling light
and hope it stops for me.
"What's the problem?"
"Out of loving gas."
"Get in. I'II push you."
"No use; the bumpers
of our cars don't match."
"I'II ride you
to the next place."
"It isn't mine, so
I can't leave it here."
"OK. I'II tell them
at the next place
where you are."
"Yeh, tell them
that I'm here.
Grind backward gears,
grind forward gears;
with flaring light
it zooms away.
I am deaf,
in silence, left.
Why didn't it run out
of gas before we got
to Susie' home
and she was holding hands?
Or when Ma or Pa was in it ?
Now here comes
lighting up the whole world
with me in
the center of the road,
plain to see.
He isn't slowing down, though,
but speeding up,
his motor roaring,
and blasts me by.
Why should he care,
why risk his neck?
Or maybe it's a woman,
How should she
I am so harmless
She should ask Suzie
or Ma and Pa,
or the fellows.
But that's the trouble-
I'm in the middle
and out of loving gas.
WOMEN AND MEN
Clothe me in furs and see if I'm not
the most elegant and chic of the lot.
Push-ups, pedal kicks; raise arms, bend knees!
My true-blue American eyebrows are tweezed.
I'm depilated and deodorized from head to toe,
thinner than yesterday, even thinner tomorrow.
The suit hanging up, the shoes standing neat
await orders to slide in the driver's seat.
Oh ready for everything costs so much!
The day is bleak. Or maybe clear?
I wouldn't know which. I'm out of touch.
After many years the sap runs slow.
(That thought I had, where did it go?)
Yes, many cold winds have blown
from grown-big-with child to a big child, grown.
I never counted them, for who could stop
the relentless claims of sweeper and mop/
She took a woman's revenge at first
by not having children to defy her kind,
but it wasn't enough to repel the world
that followed her like a rapist behind
through echoing miles of underground tubes.
It was unbearable never to find oneself,
she thought, saying aloud;
"I am watched by God,
watched also they say by odd
beings from outer space.
Family and friends drive me mad
and at work I had
a pestilence of eyes.
I am watched by the police,
the press, teachers, and by the State;
by my Church with malice, and by my conscience with hate.
Too much watching-
No wonder the pot won't boil!
(She was good at gallows humor.)
The only way to privacy,
to foil the lot of them
is to take a powder, or a shot
of gin, and in exhausted dreams,
a besotted sage,
or in drunken rage, proclaim
the sequence of executions:
First go those I must control
because they are in my mind-
Go God, odd men, and conscience!
Then those I see most clearly,
their heads must roll,
friends and family, whose blame runs from birth.
Co-workers are unneeded with machines.
But if they don't come close to me,
the government and teachers may stay
and even the kind of church that doesn't pray."
So her last twinges of love
expired like a dead snake's tall.
She stood clean-limbed, arms locked
with her escorts, MANIAC and JOHNNIAC,
eyes blue, vacant through and through.
So until the climate changed
the stream flowed full and fresh,
and then its tributaries baked and dried
and itself sank in the sand and died.
Mercy! She was quite deceived,
for how this happened could not be known
or if known could not be explained,
and if explained would not be believed. Mercy.
"Mr. Crudders has left for the day,"
announced a cheerful voice,
and when the regrets were given
and the message writ,
a lipstick pressed against
sweet pursed lip, heavily fatigued,
as the master plug was pulled.
Crudders left, no question why.
Five-o-two was late,
not for heaven or hell
or success or failure
but for gate eleven and
the five-twenty-two for Bethesda.
For it came to pass
that the animals were restless
each day this time,
and they opened and closed drawers.
They avoided last-minute calls,
turned the calendar leaf
and glanced quickly away
from the tedium of tomorrow.
The undone is more than the done
and for ever and ever will be.
Yet he shall be punished each night
for the undone
and from four-fifty-six,
a reasonable time,
will be fretting in limbo.
His good-byes are always short.
Amid like salutes from the left behind,
his half-life day abruptly cancels
and through muffled sounding corridors
amidst shrouded machines
finds a lonely way,
through work for the day.
Of wasted souls, torn up tracks,
cinders strewn black to mark the way.
men passed here unspeaking, murderous.
Here they broke route
to clamber one upon another
toward the embankment,
eager and bitter.
There they fell back vomiting
upon themselves, cleaning
each other then with
Praise the good man
who keeps them in this line,
withers them, and divides
their minds from decent
The high family's nest blows away in the summer
and the screams of sickened poets are heard,
falling while searching comme il
for the hell of ambition is failure below.
It is a regime of the winners,
where a philosopher self-sows with salt his brain,
where a politician guards his alleys
with hungry menace, a cordial Cain,
where scientists squelch the insect whose bite
itches in the sticky heat of truth,
where musicians, arrivee, pipe loud in delight
for the snobbish rich and those just rich-and-uncouth.
That the victims may suppress
the freshly ambitious are driven through a
of the failed by the whips of those who
organized by publics, circles, courts, and
authorities as needed.
Christian may the ambitious be,
although its values are
said to be free;
for embarrassment is meant to attend
the model of Christ who dreams, fails
suffers, helps-in sum has little to lend-
save that he can make a miracle which prevails.
While the poet researches through
lungs, guts and bottoms of bottles.
Why aren't you out there writing poems,
you dirty old man?
Why do you leave
it to the damp-pants to caterwaul?
Cannon cannot louder speak than words.
Why bank on money to swing your deals?
Don't you see all those broads lapping it up and
vacation (three weeks after ten years)
give you fifty
weeks of free time.
pumped up at 35 or 55 or 70 years.
When will you begin
gushing all you've suffered to learn?
Why doesn't the interminable third degree
wrench a scream from you?
You're just as brave-up to a point.
Cautious to excess, perhaps.
Stupid, yes. Stupefied by the lobotomy of
a lifetime of cacophony.
indeed, the manners for which
you traded morals long
The fall is for molting so that you may sing.
Sing, canary, sing.
nothing to lose but your cage.
Such a woman of affectionate consequence!
A woman who is broad and thick
her table and sets her bowls on slick
linens, with heavy
with oranges, fat brown bananas,
rough whole wheat bread and sturgeons
in rows on plates.
Her plans as a belly-lover is to draw concupiscence
through a string of affectionate consequence,
by alp after alp of snowy potatoes,
grapes, grapefruit, tomatoes
round, all fat, all gleaming.
Glistering a mist of oil
forest of broccoli,
and her jungle of salad;
smile broad, stews to roil,
big, tendering me
creamy chocolate pie.
A ballad of crooning and stuffing
of a giddy drake. No sick jazz,
but succoring man and child
grease, and heavy motion by mild
woman. Release no man
from her sense of affectionate consequence.
My mother rocked me
"Sle-eep, my bab-y, sle-eep."
"Shu-ush, my bab-y,
"Ee-at, my bab-y, ee-at."
I was the sleeper of sleeps
in a country highway store,
watching away the hours on television,
selling coffee and cigarettes
the traffickers of life.
the shushed of shushes,
for thirty years a soldier,
squatting patiently on soft fields,
comfortable in the worn saddle
my barracks bed and messhall bench.
I was an eater of eats
count my many meals,
snacks and drinks. I nibbled
and secreted like a worm, moving
through breakfast and supper endlessly.
I have always followed my mother's
I glided on the broad silken river.
I was sweet nothing, a tiny figure
in the swishing manifold of the soft skirt.
So many thanks
for the coves
of your love,
of my boats,
so that my mouth
can brush the
of the surface smooth
on down can
and quiet colors
Almost all is Space,
feel too far apart!
Infinitely small are they
sub specie mundi.
magnified will disappear!
Enlarged to 10, to 30,
And Love-all, in all.
Feed me no more on love.
turn my head,
Smell air less body-musty,
Blink at white light,
How far I soar will
I will come back, howsoever bold,
Let go, my love, of your strangling hold.
Losing you into the night.
Another. without end, but no use.
Nothing will hold us
intact through time.
The present explodes with the
and drifts down silently to bury the memory.
My heart was tricked out.
The most opposed will most believing
I sensed it from the first
and wailed against the loss.
with me! Don't go!
I am small, weak, alone.
Love me as I do me, do!
So I said and came to be,
minded the wind atop the tall trees,
and counselled from
detached and just in the incidents of life.
I swam even gay, untouched,
pools where love fished.
careless, cavalier, and confident
that love was helpless
in the tangles of duty.
And I was struck! Hooked by
No one pulled in the line at first.
She let me run with it and I did,
from sun-shot blue to muddy brake.
I lay quivering on the block
when all was over, fearful
Beseeching whosoever not to hack
But no one would hear. (They envy love.)
So it has gone since,
do whatever, go wherever,
the painful tugs of children's
of the old and dying folk of my youth,
the hurt glances of the weak.
worldful menagerie of wrongs
engorges me through love's
Love it is that invites
It takes all fear for self away,
exhausts the self in others.
needs me not at all therefore.
It lives in them, and
Quasar lights gleam
from the opened
shells of space.
Astral flight far;
blue midnight all.
By measured illimit,
by density fast,
no meaning to
no heart to catch.
Therefore art thou, squmjum.
Yum. No never-mind,
The world arrests.
It forms its
width and length
of wall once more,
whose Japanese careful trees stop swaying,
and fishing boats are still.
The loud breath tests
It struggles for shore
as the cargo of blood floods the vessel laying
low in the waters of will,
until the fluttering eyes can employ
the dawning swells of sun
the world of after-love,
five trillion times done-
sadly for some, sometimes sad-
this morning in smiles of exhausted joy.
Slivers of light pass a window shade
snapping to a darkling dance of love,
with a stentor trombone bumping
down like a load-foot stevedore
The brass door
on the Dixieland band below,
gusting cool, man, lines of bold cornet
over laying bodies sweated sated,
satisfied, as twinkling keys
run chilling along long pale skins
with a shrilling woodwind shudder
and a beat drum steady beat.
All mild eyes and torpid mouth can answer
nothing back out of flesh gone.
Faraway blues, blow breezes for us,
on our castaway beach
water steam and green.
Now go, my word, alone in haste,
without a backward look.
light, reflect not;
disregard a lack of girth,
measure, of presence-
of the body
heavy with the imprint of love.
How far and hard must you pass:
foul with gas,
pest of bats gnashing irritably
in hopeless flight
then prey in the land of
who perch on mountains of papers,
hide in swamps of duties,
boneyards fill from wasted words.
slender shaft that you are,
reach her when I cannot;
for my word in flesh contained
but only now,
tomorrow I am another-
Sing this to her; bear me well;
"Younging brang the blue mists true
Sashing through the bow to you,
Moons can tremble
Waft away clothes
night breeze knows
No life so long as a kissing sigh
No space too deep for the making eye."
You can reach her,
closer than ever I.
let her blush.
Soothing for ecstatic shudder.
Be sad; let her cry.
let her live forever,
and be her flower that will never
I want to get up and I want to lie down
I wish I could get up and lie down too.
The dawn is come and I've had
but how can I give up my place next to
Warm as the womb, heaving
as the sea,
dark with the blinds, easily easy it be.
Shiver of leaves, sliver of sky
fish in the pond twitch tails, snap and under shelving
Up and down, back and
forth, right and wrong,
the contrapuntal soul moves in
from dawn to
eternity. With you it lay
and yet, with the day, opens
wide to the song of the world.
I stay behind
My gasping heart drops with a footfall.
No use to pretend! I can't come out!
I hope nothing bad happens,
don't answer calls.
In the eerie night,
least of all teary:
think of the
When all the plants are potted
will poets do?
The world a concrete square,
the night a shuffling of
and computers racing
Not like desert wanderers
stars be to them then,
only rocks in far skies
where the lucky ones go,
on pills and gases.
Sing brave against
unnervous in the sky
nor ever guileless drunk.
Aloft the struts
shuddering only house of the restless bird,
on a wing
and a prayer.
What can God do
and why hasn't He done it?
Green snakes of China writhe below
through the checkerboards of boobery,
while darkly you ride the muttering motors
to get somewhere by flailing the unseen
and cut through jostling laws with wings
whose every sway tips mind off this world
The started words starry never land
nor join you in heaven,
but spark in the here always now.
Where is what came before the baby rocked and scared?
Speak, stuttering poet!
So young to die.)
Peace must have been there,
would poetry be a trait of age,
age of youth but ages gone,
when man's "why?"
was choked up in his throat
no further into "how?"
when every strange question
had an ending in the guts
spilled themselves in fertility
of image, dance, of
clear mad act,
and lost itself not
of petty discharges
until out it came,
if at all,
a weak "perhaps,"
a tiny twinge
with the nothing that
Reflected in prismatic pane,
are stuffed with clocks
all on their own time,
yet in our care.
The sets of what move-
move are sets-
tick synchronously with us
from the bugles of first awareness.
All whose being marks our register
begins a beat of recognizable sound
which when we leave sets up
non-replicable rhythms to startle us on return,
cries out its
and we shiver like animals
in the passage of an abattoir.
You may as well know:
not what they seem.
The sweetheart's face upon the
drings hole chantful only dream.
Lofted by hundry people
jetously orly field canarrest;
you move here and there asking wherefor
the sleek clean peaceful ship glides west.
Pace the rattrap measure, 1 by
sink and stove and bed and television,
is a capsule pulsating younit
fleebag by minding out and sinit.
Brush the wind from flowing
canals to carry waste away,
the sun holding time's stare
glum-chewing life death's way.
Again and more the proof in piles
of downy ash on pictured tiles
shows without showing
etched but hid, faint gold
Hear, hark, horen!
down the gamut
to splash upon the crowd,
from the lover
to the movie
the leader to
the busybody to the Buddha,
less and less
to more and more
until he binds
the godhead to
with an inchoate roar.
A kettle of tea, boiled fish,
China! Rice in every dish!
Bring mincing girls,
bring smooth-faced boys,
your sweet grimaces.
You will be our end,
in sing a loh, a lon, a-loh-a-lon.
The world will soon boom out
and then we'll spout
o high, o far,
o dust of space,
radioactive charge of China seas.
Whether kind or downright mean
we'll meet, we'll join, a loh-a-lon
in clouds of eau de Chine.
So now, hoot now,
the age of China
from the teapot steams.
Sing a loh, a lon, march on.
Marching on, a-loh-a-lon.
Die Logik ist schwer
Eins :What is not
cannot know what it is.
Zwei :It knows not itself,
hence cannot know others--
Drei :for nothing can know nothing,
Vier :Magnificent nothing,
as only can Non-being be.
Gut! Jetzt alle
HIGH ABOVE ALL!
HEIL DER STAAT!
Singe traumerisch :
of its creator, man.
HEIL DER STAAT!
Hier vortrag wie ein Pedagoge:
The slime that fascinates
the genius of ages,
whose enemies are its lovers.
of the vires of Rome;
R. Kipling, Architect
of imperial English facades;
Grand Prurient Exalter
of the American mass:
who create what they hate,
to exercise feebly
the liberties needed
to extend it memory.
Aber macht nicht;
spreche mit Kraft:
SALUTE DER STAAT!
Und hier muss man
die Logik unterscheiden:
Others are different,
though the same.
The good outside
is as bad as others.
The others die
their past is telescopic;
THREE CHEERS FOR OUR ETERNITY!
Its past is bloody,
its prate pacific,
beneath flaunted community.
where few are acting;
by its definition,'
justice there is,
for it must be.
Und mit dem enthusiasmus:
Elevated for the sightless
on the shoulders of genius,
high above all.
for if you don't,
you are against it.)
Whip, flags, the wind.
Scorch the imbibulous
Mit loyaler ernst, sagen:
SALUTE DER STAAT!
I. Uncle Tom's Resort
I am dipped and shined
as black as can be
and stuck out in
for the world to see
Inside we're the same,
It's just an
Still, better were I blue
or red, or gold.
For black is the cave
and the devil too
and the eyes shut tight,
while golden is dawn
and the white
blue is sky and
is the right.
It's the black,
that Negroes wear
you must learn
to love and bear.
the world as is.
cause no ground is his.
Strip down to nothing
as naked we came
and make black
cover white with shame.
Sweet shouting resistance,
SITDOWN and BOYCOTT.
what they want, we've got.
Pound their clumsy beat down,
sing over their hoarse mutter.
Dance until their feet freeze.
and love like a banging shutter.
III. Dr. Head's Report
In tests white is best
for they measure IQ-
whatever black can't do.
Physique is another matter;
in feats of strength they lead.
They excel in jumping,
blow, and speed.
life is poor.
Mothers dominate the home
and keep authorities busy,
the males gamble and roam.
These are mere statistics, of course,
not enough to be quite sure
dark night, but good enough
for ages of research,
applied and pure.
IV. Mr. Heart's Last Court
Hope is a long shot,
the truth is trickle
through gores of sand.
Facts are big
when facts will
but more than this
take our supporting arm;
learn our sad tales, boy;
forget the harm.
Live and let
the threat is of mind.
Give and beget love
exchanges in kind.
No lion roared in the trembling tall grass
when Addo died
nor wash of southern
wave sounded heavy,
somnolent in his ears,
but he was killed in the freezing winterland
where branches splintered and cracked in agony of cold
and the snow screeched beneath the boots of those
who came to fetch him frostbearded
long hours after the lonesome train that dropped him
had whistled away into the night.
On a dirty hard bank, on a bower
of cinders and
snow Addo died,
grasping the roots of a living bush
in his brown hands
while his life
ebbed away. Addo died
with his gentle brown eyes begging
a return to warm showered plantations
and fronds enfolding.
An empty bed and several books were all he left
by the police who
called and dropped the fact
among his fellows.
How did he die? None of their business.
"Drunk," in a word, if one forced an official grunt.
Casually they rubbed this cipher of chalk off the
blackboard, not deigning to think how happily
swung the memory of Addo in the hearts of his friends.
The mothers' sons
hear the news and
"How did Addo die?"
Officials tell a lie.
Addo was in love.
He went to see
He shivered across
and tried to return
to school again.
But jealous eyes
chased Addo on the train
and settled his fate
with club and
to keep him from
his desperate hold
in fearful cold.
his unheard song
love and grief
froze in the air
until his soul gave up
to his mother's care.
They carried him back
in a gunny sack
and told his
that he met his end
Who would save
They came from all around,
dormitories, from the bare furnished rooms,
humble eyes, frightened eyes, numb eyes,
reckless eyes, loving eyes,
through heaps of blankets and caps
all eyes reached toward the heart of the Soviet Union,
the Kremlin, fancy gloomy powerhouse,
where not for forty years had the steps of Revolution
The march was on.
Dead Addo lived in the hunched
and curly heads of his comrades,
marching four hundred strong,
there were of them in the
Capital of the Communist
moving forward illegally, un-ideologically,
humanely, inevitably, against the state that lies.
The doctors tall
in their masks and gowns
say what they've told,
and our ambassador bold
helped their faking
by telling a lie
that Addo did
as officials said,
and worthless head.
He left the boys
he should have
but they cared not;
bad students and good,
all marched along
And the masters of half the world
By strangers in its midst, the communist
heard the cry for justice raised.
"Who are these blacks? Who are these men?
Who are these marchers? What mean they here?"
They are a rude surprise.
not official enemies.
They are not pale blonde Letts or
Estonians, Tatars or Kirzhiz.
Not communists, not
reactionary enemies of the people,
though they must be
called all of these.
They are grateful students from
in the category of oppressed colonial
peoples plundered by imperialists,
used to the
easy death, and early sorrow,
liberated by a people's war conducted with the help of the
and privileged to study in the libraries
of the great institutions of world
learning of the communist motherland.
"What are those
black bastards doing
at our front door?"
(So all injustice, as it peels away
like rotten layers of wallpaper,
begins in fancy flowers and ends in blank walls.
All tortuous philosophy convolutely descends
to the simple snort of surprise)
"How dare anybody dare us?
Look at that ugly one - shouting, gesturing.
I'd like to shoot him myself.
Trepov, where are the troops?
Are they ready? Niki
Katlov, why didn't the newspapers explain this morning?
Andrei Arak, call Michael Muraviov.
Why has he allowed the discipline of the colleges to
He will regret it.
Look at that. Look at that!
no. General, do not speak with them.
There is nothing to
You will only honor them
and they may spit on you.
"Let the demonstrators come and go.
No Russians are out in this cold to see them.
The Russians will never behave like blacks.
This will not count against our unbroken record.
Repeat the announcement and embellish it.
"Announce an autopsy will be held.
Yes, they can send representatives to the
What nerve! The doctors protest? They say these
are only students.
Tell them to fuck themselves-the
They'll lie like thieves but claim
matter. It doesn't count.
These are foreigners and
But they can't get away with it.
Why do we let them? What is wrong with us?
What would Lenin have done?
find out when we are charged."
They made no pact
with white gowned
to lie on orders
hide the fact.
No doctors had they
but fine young men
who could tell
Yadom and Atando
came to the
and a happy roar
for they knew the practices
of medical men
and would not
though they'd have to pay
for every last inch
courage this day.
dear friends of dead Addo,
went to watch
but the doctors present
They forced them back
where they could not see
the table in jealousy.
Drunk, they jeered,
and dead from
but the students stretched and peered
and here's what they told:
"It's a put-up job,
Poor Addo is
But from many wicked cuts
did his red blood ooze.
whatever quacks have said,
we smelled no booze.
"So we're sending our report
to the Soviet empire,
the bureaucrats in control
the police on patrol
in serge suits-
all are in cahoots-and
to those who died before.
(and the world heard well)
the Soviet state
will go to hell
for hiding the fate
of an innocent
The Russian leaders
were astonished to see
and wished to blow them
into Kingdom Come.
In the towers
tanks were warmed.
the massacre was readied.
Yet feelings were mixed
in the high
and the guns were stopped
by an uncertain hand.
What held the
No one can say.
paralyzed their will
is unknown to this day.
Shock, perhaps, from
until they had spoken.
Useless to attack,
suffer them to
wind and snow,
back to their rooms
and stink of cabbage,
then out of
goes every savage.
the savages were men
and the leaders cruel
and history will
In the far beyond, like
the roll of distant thunder
or the ice of the rivers
breaking up in Spring,
could the amens of the millions
farmers, soldiers, Poles and Cossacks,
party workers, all murdered in their time,
be heard, and they haunted the air
above the great Red square as
Africans marched for Addo.
One hair in a vial
Hair of the Prophet,
Ahmed, held by sages
a small but precious thing,
like a crusted claw, a
an eyeball or flag,
that among believers engages
an ecstatic devoutness
O Man that you must live by a hair!
O man that you must live by a flag!
O thou meathead of electric spirit!
When from Kashmir's
and streming waters
scrubbing furiously their necklaces of rock,
a Hair is plucked!
the vault is
broken (its jewels are untouched)
a Hair is
And a nation of 400 millions quivers in
Come the mad dog years
of the poor new lands?
Thus the murderousness of the
Are hunger and slavery corroding each other?
It is pure righteous indignation.
It is the holy spirit,
of the just,
the punishment of the wicked,
the recognition of God in a slight thing,
the sacrifice of self for a good cause.
Oh, the kidnapping of a hair,
(it was returned, by the way, by
persons unknown while the
Intelligence Corps was cheered)
is a serious affair,
And unbelievers have only themselves to blame
if they are stuck like sheep,
Ha, my bloody grim winning fellow,
my hand was at your throat,
you can't call clear in triumph,
it's me who's to
and you know it.
And I know that nevertheless
can't hate me as much-
not nearly so much-
as the moderate enemies
who melted before you
and never dug
but kept a pestering whine
and a rancorous protest,
jackals whose hostility
because you were not
dead enough to eat.
Kick them out of your way.
Let them moulder in
and fertilize your fields.
What you cannot forget are
singers of your doom,
who called you what you are
in death or victory.
As your sweat of conquering freezes hard,
as your belt squeezes your fatty paunch,
as you get restless, itchy with free time,
nothing to do but flick your whip-
listen how the air swallows the crack in long silence!-
you will love me brother
I will be the God you killed!
how you will suffer my idea.
Would you believe that
studied heroes a lot
until I know them all
for what they are and what they're not,
and I shall never
why famous names
and writers wear their pens to nubbins on
when they are nothing
while the great ones bump
elbows and disappear into the crowd.
"Wait!" "Hold on!"
I call after
and they don't even turn around.
They are vanished, they are dust.
No cast of bronze contains them.
(I cannot catch your shoulders
and twist you around
to see the
Dammed gripping crabs around the pricks!)
You can sense the heroes true:
they carry their babies
arms drop numb
while their wives move through the
They hump their backs
digging ditches at low pay
greet kismet, not stupidly.
You can test and try them:
They have a "joy in achievement,"
they have a "generousness of purpose,"
they have "a good attitude towards work,"
they have "a feeling for others,"
they have a taunt on their lips,
piss against the pedestal,
a sick mother and retarded
a criminal boss and a loud neighbor,
and they move, they move,
how they move,
not even Buddha has their patience
and they never heard of him.
When they call out
they don't know
half the time
to whom they are calling.
They may just grunt,
grunt like a
And that grunt, friend,
a hero's grunt.
It is one step above the vocal
Christ, who being a proper Jew,
could put everything into words.
Shocking and blinding snow
once the sun is drowned in its gore.
The weed-covered maid on the
by the shore
cannot slip in or out anymore.
Fast savage waves spew
froth on the
cut cut the flesh so sore.
Hard wettened sands where
strive to bore
do nothing nothing care for.
The face of the present
turned to me-
but this moment
it's but vacant skull
till now that soon
I ate in haste
damping my lips,
dashing my napkin
and shoved back my chair.
I fought for myself
when young, and
for others when older.
I loved too soon
and always looked back
instead of towards my love.
I was busy
getting things done
and must say
still: we are here
to give them a shove.
For my manic bed
of today is a comfort
the nightmare of tomorrow.
The mother's large shoulders
hunched around a look
crossing her sweet face.
"I feel so cold, Son!"
It was the voice of a girl
grace of long suffering,
"It's the passage of death, Mom,"
said the son, holding his voice
solemn check. He searched
to light up love and hope
in her brown eyes.
"It comes upon
us. I felt
it too, even long ago,
and never forgotten-
all the mud
tired universe weighing
down my sleeping bag.
"It will come undecided, Mom,
flit back and forth,
fluttering, and finally will
Here-my hand is warm."
How bad can you be?
Only time will
The mad erupting
the sneakthief little child.
"No" to this and "no" to that,
hate that drives youth wild.
Before you've come into your own,
you're on your way to hell.
But the beginning betters the end,
and the middle is worse than both.
Bridle the young and stifle your
Then squat in the cave of shrinking years,
until it is wrong to knock out your snaggled teeth,
as you shamble away in the goodness of time.
Death, come kindly.
needs no bluster
Resign as State
To spike brains and twist bowels,
is an eternal
scandal against law.
Come as a
loving your gaunt sons,
fondling your crippled daughters.
Let them feel wanted hereafter.
As sorrow comes,
in our eyes
the god who lives
who is all of you
and mist with gathering tear.
Man is a beast self-aware
self-aware finds God.
(Thus man is defined
lest the question be begged,
to how he was made.)
Man was brute not too unlike
himself today, until one time
cosmic storm struck
and stunned him with stone
and fear, water and fire,
whereupon he fainted
"who am I, what am I?"
and the first answer
had to be "I
And before another
breath was drawn
God was born.
So God is seen in blinding
in great flashes and pain,
the trauma of the
birth of man.
Lord, you are all and none.
you in sixteen-o-one
on my deathbed, beyond cure,
through a mediator, to be sure,
"Forgive me, bless me,
what I did I
would not do.
I meant nothing against you."
Priestly hands moved to and
up and down, but lo,
no time, no time
at all but in slime,
with weak limbs wafting,
and am here, am here, to escape
My son was wiser, but
could not learn
in sixty years what I could not
in fifty. He fretted,
for hell is no joke, abetted
your worst enemy
who is all too keen
to be insufferably mean.
Sixty-five years were counted
my grandson. Bad mounted
high while he acted the
and weighed the tipsy scales down.
I see him, tortured as his father,
infinitely immured in compost.
joke is strained to the utmost.
Seventy years: what could his son be?
Five years lame; he could not see
for ten; women he shunned for two-score
and cared little enough before.
Still there he was, gluttonously
guilty, condemned by paternity
the devil's spitted ox for eternity.
That leaves gentle Bert
his mother's skirt
but met a car in an alleyway
and now is with the devil to stay
for clinging too close to a father's place.
Am I to keep young Bert by my side
exposing always his unholy smarting hide?
Lord, you are all and none.
I cannot believe I am your son
here I am, and as I sweat
I deny thee with every
so perhaps warranting this lot for not
believing the unbelievable
thinking that some measure of sin is conceivable.
Little Bobby, oh
don't teary sob
that caught in climb
and plump behind
will out of mind go.
Ages hence, though
you'll walk around
a twinge will stall
an otherwise urge
and hurt emerge.
For bodies tell a history
to every past,
in their gear-box.
Your very head
is long and tall
from borning hard
and first of
and beneath the
lies your fall
You rub the ache
the sled that swerved
with the crooked finger
from the ball that curved.
In days to come
a truck on the foot,
even a bullet scar.
You've much to do
and a body
to say `twas done.
Can you hear it
when you never mind,
and then will be behind?
There'll be smog,
and sad sights
over clear skies'
and cheek twitching
teeth grinding flat
on submerged rock rages,
girdling your waist
and lusty taste,
some lines up-skin
and some lines
from a disagreeable frown;
open pores, greying hair,
skin, and rocking chair.
are making history,
my boy, today,
when you come crying
Apt body's caught
without faculty seat
on very little pay.
the kings and queens,
no more than yours
regal soma's smithereens.
mind this machine
of time and motion.
In blind devotion
it does what it was.
from life's mistakes
and rarely suggests
after the first few
it reduces love and mind.
Only it smallest twinges
only briefest furrows mark,
a mere buried glance
and when it wot
romance, assistance, askance-
all that plants
a flower vase
in the rusting pot.
First though is, banish heed
worst is appease its hulk
until early dead.
Durst pick up the
through the maze
rewrite your history's ways?
Then that bottom,
be done with much resting
on its normal base.
So to meet the
on your feet
is a big
of what's not quite true,
that you master history
So Swifty is fifty!
His years have
not caught up
judging by his molar state,
I'd say he's but a pup.
I can't be
since his teeth are used to dissever
the Opposition, to which I do not relate,
So swifty is Fifty that
marry off my daughter
lest the lamb be led to
on a passing social spree
whilst I would have my hands full
guarding my position vis-a-vis
wife. For Swifty,
who is fifty, is quite a bull,
Not swifty is Fifty
prandial board is set up,*
but sweetly he moves through
as though the bloody thing were Campbell's
Nor truit fume' or aromaed potage escapes
There would be few ships to launch
if he passed upon the champagne firstly,
for Fifty is thirsty.
Now all who
at these potentialities of harm
will pray that Fifty will soon be sixty,
but I who know him well
that Swifty is fifty:
things will get worse before they
men who fear Swifty a fifty
will be non compos mentis at seventy,
and at four-score, much more.
Christ, do you not forgive us who mean well
and cannot find you in the Holiday hell,
peering through bundles of odd shapes and sizes,
treeing bright ornaments with squinting eyes?
Anxious to please everyone, but no one is pleased,
helping the overhelped, ignoring all indeed,
as the count-down goes "30, 29,...3, 2, 1 days
Let us await, or follow your birth,
by silent thought among the empty rows
of a church in August, while the rest
embrace the sun-god's hot girth,
and by silent aid and gifts
no flags of commerce and press crest
the charge of
spendthrift heroes behind paper bags.
Be a miracle of
Mondays and common months.
Head the whistles of midnight
through the clock's obsessive beat and fog of chatter.
Close the neat, discrete accounts,
leaving red and black amounts to spark
automatically amidst the grey matter.
The old year's balance cannot be
neither worst nor best can be shown.
So the seed that is good in the new is sown
beneath bristling grass knives of perceived past,
and unfolds unknown.