I might fathom your golden delirium with throttle of finger and thumb shutting valve of bright song. II But if... away off... on a fork of grassed earth socketing an inlet reach of blue water... if canaries (do they sing out of cages?) flung such luminous notes, they would sink in the spirit... lie germinal... housed in the soul as a seed in the earth... to break forth at spring with the crocuses into young smiles on the mouth. Or glancing off buoyantly, radiate notes in one key with the sparkle of rain-drops on the petal of a cactus flower focusing the just-out sun. Cactus... why cactus? God... God... somewhere... away off... cactus flowers, star-yellow ray out of spiked green, and empties of sky roll you over and over like a mother her baby in long grass. And only the wind scandal-mongers with gum trees, pricking multiple leaves at his amazing story. WINDOWS TIME-STONE Hallo, Metropolitan-- Ubiquitous windows staring all ways, Red eye notching the darkness. No use to ogle that slip of a moon. This midnight the moon, Playing virgin after all her encounters, Will break another date with you. You fuss an awful lot, You flight of ledger books, Overrun with multiple ant-black figures Dancing on spindle legs An interminable can-can. But I'd rather... like the cats in the alley... count time By the silver whistle of a moonbeam Falling between my stoop-shouldered walls, Than all your tally of the sunsets, Metropolitan, ticking among stars. TRAIN WINDOW Small towns Crawling out of their green shirts... Tubercular towns Coughing a little in the dawn... And the church... There is always a church With its natty spire And the vestibule-- That's where they whisper: Tzz-tzz... tzz-tzz... tzz-tzz... How many codes for a wireless whisper-- And corn flatter than it should be And those chits of leaves Gadding with every wind? Small towns From Connecticut to Maine: Tzz-tzz... tzz-tzz...tzz-tzz... SCANDAL Aren't there bigger things to talk about Than a window in Greenwich Village And hyacinths sprouting Like little puce poems out of a sick soul? Some cosmic hearsay-- As to whom--it can't be Mars! put the moon--that way.... Or what winds do to canyons Under the tall stars... Or even How that old roué, Neptune, Cranes over his bald-head moons At the twinkling heel of a sky-scraper. ELECTRICITY Out of fiery contacts... Rushing auras of steel Touching and whirled apart... Out of the charged phallases Of iron leaping Female and male, Complete, indivisible, one, Fused into light. SKYSCRAPERS Skyscrapers... remote, unpartisan... Turning neither to the right nor left Your imperturbable fronts.... Austerely greeting the sun With one chilly finger of stone.... I know your secrets... better than all the policemen like fat blue mullet along the avenues. WALL STREET AT NIGHT Long vast shapes... cooled and flushed through with darkness.... Lidless windows Glazed with a flashy luster From some little pert cafe chirping up like a sparrow. And down among iron guts Piled silver Throwing gray spatter of light... pale without heat... Like the pallor of dead bodies. EAST RIVER Dour river Jaded with monotony of lights Diving off mast heads.... Lights mad with creating in a river... turning its sullen back... Heave up, river... Vomit back into the darkness your spawn of light.... The night will gut what you give her. SECRETS INTERIM The earth is motionless And poised in space... A great bird resting in its flight Between the alleys of the stars. It is the wind's hour off.... The wind has nestled down among the corn.... The two speak privately together, Awaiting the whirr of wings. AFTER STORM Was there a wind? Tap... tap... Night pads upon the snow with moccasined feet... and it is still... so still... an eagle's feather might fall like a stone. Could there have been a storm... mad-tossing golden mane on the neck of the wind... tearing up the sky... loose-flapping like a tent about the ice-capped stars? Cool, sheer and motionless the frosted pines are jeweled with a million flaming points that fling their beauty up in long white sheaves till they catch hands with stars. Could there have been a wind that haled them by the hair.... and blinding blue-forked flowers of the lightning in their leaves? Tap... tap... slow-ticking centuries... Soft as bare feet upon the snow... faint... lulling as heard rain upon heaped leaves.... Silence builds her wall about a dream impaled. SECRETS Secrets infesting my half-sleep... did you enter my wound from another wound brushing mine in a crowd... or did I snare you on my sharper edges as a bird flying through cobwebbed trees at sun-up carries off spiders on its wings? Secrets, running over my soul without sound, only when dawn comes tip-toeing ushered by a suave wind, and dreams disintegrate like breath shapes in frosty air, I shall overhear you, bare-foot, scatting off into the darkness.... I shall know you, secrets by the litter you have left and by your bloody foot-prints. POTPOURRI Do you remember Honey-melon moon Dripping thick sweet light Where Canal Street saunters off by herself among quiet trees? And the faint decayed patchouli-- Fragrance of New Orleans Like a dead tube rose Upheld in the warm air... Miraculously whole. THAW Blow through me wind As you blow through apple blossoms.... Scatter me in shining petals over the passers-by.... Joyously I reunite... sway and gather to myself.... Sedately I walk by the dancing feet of children-- Not knowing I too dance over the cobbled spring. O, but they laugh back at me, (Eyes like daisies smiling wide open), And we both look askance at the snowed-in people Thinking me one of them. PORTRAITS I MOTHER I Your love was like moonlight turning harsh things to beauty, so that little wry souls reflecting each other obliquely as in cracked mirrors... beheld in your luminous spirit their own reflection, transfigured as in a shining stream, and loved you for what they are not. You are less an image in my mind than a luster I see you in gleams pale as star-light on a gray wall... evanescent as the reflection of a white swan shimmering in broken water. II (To E. S.) You inevitable, Unwieldy with enormous births, Lying on your back, eyes open, sucking down stars, Or you kissing and picking over fresh deaths... Filth... worms... flowers... Green and succulent pods... Tremulous gestation Of dark water germinal with lilies... All in you from the beginning... Nothing buried or thrown away... Only the moon like a white sheet Spread over the dead you carry. III (To H.) Speeding gull Passing under a cloud Caught on his white back You... drop of crystal rain. Now you gleam softly triumphant Folding immensities of light. IV (To O. F. T.) You have always gotten up after blows And smiled... and shaken off the dust... Only you could not shake the darkness From off the bruised brown of your eyes. V (To E. A. R.) Centuries shall not deflect nor many suns absorb your stream, flowing immune and cold between the banks of snow. Nor any wind carry the dust of cities to your high waters that arise out of the peaks and return again into the mountain and never descend. SONS OF BELIAL I We are old, Old as song. Before Rome was Or Cyrene. Mad nights knew us And old men's wives. We knew who spilled the sacred oil For young-gold harlots of the town.... We knew where the peacocks went And the white doe for sacrifice. II We were the Sons of Belial. One black night Centuries ago We beat at a door In Gilead.... We took the Levite's concubine We plucked her hands from off the door.... We choked the cry into her throat And stuck the stars among her hair.... We glimpsed the madly swaying stars Between the rhythms of her hair And all our mute and separate strings Swelled in a raging symphony.... Our blood sang paeans All that night Till dawn fell like a wounded swan Upon the fields of Gilead. III We are old.... Old as song.... We are dumb song. (Epics tingled In our blood When we haled Hypatia Over the stones In Alexandria.) Could we loose The wild rhythms clinched in us.... March in bands of troubadours.... We would be of gentle mood. When Christ healed us Who were dumb-- When he freed our shut-in song-- We strewed green palms At his pale feet... We sang hosannas In Jerusalem. And all our fumbling voices blent In a brief white harmony. (But a mightier song Was in us pent When we nailed Christ To a four-armed tree.) IV We are young. When we rise up with singing roots, (Warm rains washing Gutters of Berlin Where we stamped Rosa... Luxemburg On a night in spring.) Rhythms skurry in our blood. Little nimble rats of song In our feet run crazily And all is dust... we trample... on. Mad nights when we make ritual (Feet running before the sleuth-light... And the smell of burnt flesh By a flame-ringed hut In Missouri, Sweet as on Rome's pyre....) We make ropes do rigadoons With copper feet that jig on air.... We are the Mob.... Old as song. Tyre knew us And Israel. REVEILLE IN HARNESS I The foreman's head slowly circling... White rims under yellow disks of eyes.... Gold hairs starting out of a blond scowl... Hovering... disappearing... recurring... the foreman's head. Droning of power-machines... droning of girl with adenoids... Arms flapping with a fin-like motion under sun burning down through a sky-light like a glass lid. Light skating on the rims of wheels... boring in gimlet points. Needles flickering fierce white threads of light fine as a wasp's sting. Light in sweat-drops brighter than eyes and calico-pallid faces and bodies throwing off smells-- and the air a bloated presence pressing on the walls and the silence a compressed scream. Allons enfants de la patrie-- Electric... piercing... shrill as a fife the voice of a little Russian breaks out of the shivered circle. Another voice rises... another and another leaps like flame to flame. And life--surging, clamorous, swarming like a rabble crazily fluttering ragged petticoats-- comes rushing back into torpid eyes like suddenly yielded gates. The girl with adenoids rocks on her hams. A torrent of song strains at her throat, gurgles, rushes, gouges her blocked pipes. Her feet beat a wild tattoo-- head flung back and pelvis lifting to the white body of the sun. Mates now, these two-- goddess and god.... Marchons! Only the power machines drone with metallic docility under the flaxen head of the foreman poised like an amazed gull. II To-day little French merchant men with pointed beards and fat American merchant men without any beards drive to a feast of buttered squabs. The band... accoutered and neatly caparisoned... plays the Marseillaise.... And I think of a wild stallion... newly caught... flanks yet taut and nostrils spread to the smell of a racing mare, hitched to a grocer's cart. REVEILLE Come forth, you workers! Let the fires go cold-- Let the iron spill out, out of the troughs-- Let the iron run wild Like a red bramble on the floors-- Leave the mill and the foundry and the mine And the shrapnel lying on the wharves-- Leave the desk and the shuttle and the loom-- Come, With your ashen lives, Your lives like dust in your hands. I call upon you, workers. It is not yet light But I beat upon your doors. You say you await the Dawn But I say you are the Dawn. Come, in your irresistible unspent force And make new light upon the mountains. You have turned deaf ears to others-- Me you shall hear. Out of the mouths of turbines, Out of the turgid throats of engines, Over the whistling steam, You shall hear me shrilly piping. Your mills I shall enter like the wind, And blow upon your hearts, Kindling the slow fire. They think they have tamed you, workers-- Beaten you to a tool To scoop up hot honor Till it be cool-- But out of the passion of the red frontiers A great flower trembles and burns and glows And each of its petals is a people. Come forth, you workers-- Clinging to your stable And your wisp of warm straw-- Let the fires grow cold, Let the iron spill out of the troughs, Let the iron run wild Like a red bramble on the floors.... As our forefathers stood on the prairies So let us stand in a ring, Let us tear up their prisons like grass And beat them to barricades-- Let us meet the fire of their guns With a greater fire, Till the birds shall fly to the mountains For one safe bough. TO ALEXANDER BERKMAN Can you see me, Sasha? I can see you.... A tentacle of the vast dawn is resting on your face that floats as though detached in a sultry and greenish vapor. I cannot reach my hands to you... would not if I could, though I know how warmly yours would close about them. Why? I do not know... I have a sense of shame. Your eyes hurt me... mysterious openings in the gray stone of your face through which your spirit streams out taut as a flag bearing strange symbols to the new dawn. If I stay... projected, trembling against these bars filtering emaciated light... will your eyes... that bore their lonely way through mine... stop as at a friendly gate... grow warm... and luminous? ... but I cannot stay... for the smell... I know... how the days pass... The prison squats with granite haunches on the young spring, battened under with its twisting green... and you... socket for every bolt piercing like a driven nail. Eyes stare you through the bars... eyes blank as a graveled yard... and the silence shuffles heavy dice of feet in iron corridors... until the day... that has soiled herself in this black hole to caress the pale mask of your face... withdraws the last wizened ray to wash in the infinite her discolored hands. Can you hear me, Sasha, in your surrounded darkness? EMMA GOLDMAN How should they appraise you, who walk up close to you as to a mountain, each proclaiming his own eyeful against the other's eyeful. Only time standing well off shall measure your circumference and height. AN OLD WORKMAN Warped... gland-dry... With spine askew And body shrunken into half its space... Well-used as some cracked paving-stone... Bearing on his grimed and pitted front A stamp... as of innumerable feet. TO LARKIN Is it you I see go by the window, Jim Larkin--you not looking at me nor any one, And your shadow swaying from East to West? Strange that you should be walking free--you shut down without light, And your legs tied up with a knot of iron. One hundred million men and women go inevitably about their affairs, In the somnolent way Of men before a great drunkenness.... They do not see you go by their windows, Jim Larkin, With your eyes bloody as the sunset And your shadow gaunt upon the sky... You, and the like of you, that life Is crushing for their frantic wines. WIND RISING IN THE ALLEYS Wind rising in the alleys My spirit lifts in you like a banner streaming free of hot walls. You are full of unspent dreams.... You are laden with beginnings.... There is hope in you... not sweet... acrid as blood in the mouth. Come into my tossing dust Scattering the peace of old deaths, Wind rising in the alleys, Carrying stuff of flame.
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