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Best Famous Weldon Kees Poems

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by Weldon Kees | |

Years End

 The state cracked where they left your breath
No longer instrument.
Along the shore The sand ripped up, and the newer blood Streaked like a vein to every monument.
The empty smoke that drifted near the guns Where the stiff motor pounded in the mud Had the smell of a hundred burned-out suns.
The ceiling of your sky went dark.
A year ago today they cracked your bones.
So rot in a closet in the ground For the bad trumpets and the capitol's Long seasonable grief.
Rot for its guests, Alive, that step away from death.
Yet you, A year cold, come more living to this room Than these intruders, vertical and warm.


by Weldon Kees | |

The Beach

 Squat, unshaven, full of gas,
Joseph Samuels, former clerk
in four large cities, out of work,
waits in the darkened underpass.
In sanctuary, out of reach, he stares at the fading light outside: the rain beginning: hears the tide that drums along the empty beach.
When drops first fell at six o'clock, the bathers left.
The last car's gone.
Sun's final rays reflect upon the streaking rain, the rambling dock.
He takes an object from his coat and holds it tightly in his hand (eyes on the stretch of endless sand).
And then, in darkness, cuts his throat.


by Weldon Kees | |

The Doctor Will Return

 The surgical mask, the rubber teat
Are singed, give off an evil smell.
You seem to weep more now that heat Spreads everywhere we look.
It says here none of us is well.
The warty spottings on the figurines Are nothing you would care to claim.
You seem to weep more since the magazines Began revivals on the Dundas book.
It says here you were most to blame.
But though I cannot believe that this is so, I mark the doctor as a decent sort.
I mix your medicine and go Downstairs to leave instructions for the cook.
It says here time is getting short.
That I can believe.
I hear you crying in your room While watching traffic, reconciled.
Out in the park, black flowers are in bloom.
I picked some once and pressed them in a book.
You used to look at them, and smile.


by Weldon Kees | |

Interregnum

 Butcher the evil millionaire, peasant,
And leave him stinking in the square.
Torture the chancellor.
Leave the ambassador Strung by his thumbs from the pleasant Embassy wall, where the vines were.
Then drill your hogs and sons for another war.
Fire on the screaming crowd, ambassador, Sick chancellor, brave millionaire, And name them by the name that is your name.
Give privilege to the wound, and maim The last resister.
Poison the air And mew for peace, for order, and for war.
View with alarm, participant, observer, Buried in medals from the time before.
Whisper, then believe and serve and die And drape fresh bunting on the hemisphere From here to India.
This is the world you buy When the wind blows fresh for war.
Hide in the dark alone, objector; Ask a grenade what you are living for, Or drink this knowledge from the mud.
To an abyss more terrible than war Descend and tunnel toward a barrier Away from anything that moves with blood.


by Weldon Kees | |

1926

 The porchlight coming on again,
Early November, the dead leaves
Raked in piles, the wicker swing
Creaking.
Across the lots A phonograph is playing Ja-Da.
An orange moon.
I see the lives Of neighbors, mapped and marred Like all the wars ahead, and R.
Insane, B.
with his throat cut, Fifteen years from now, in Omaha.
I did not know them then.
My airedale scratches at the door.
And I am back from seeing Milton Sills And Doris Kenyon.
Twelve years old.
The porchlight coming on again.


by Weldon Kees | |

Robinson

 The dog stops barking after Robinson has gone.
His act is over.
The world is a gray world, Not without violence, and he kicks under the grand piano, The nightmare chase well under way.
The mirror from Mexico, stuck to the wall, Reflects nothing at all.
The glass is black.
Robinson alone provides the image Robinsonian.
Which is all of the room--walls, curtains, Shelves, bed, the tinted photograph of Robinson's first wife, Rugs, vases panatelas in a humidor.
They would fill the room if Robinson came in.
The pages in the books are blank, The books that Robinson has read.
That is his favorite chair, Or where the chair would be if Robinson were here.
All day the phone rings.
It could be Robinson Calling.
It never rings when he is here.
Outside, white buildings yellow in the sun.
Outside, the birds circle continuously Where trees are actual and take no holiday.


by Weldon Kees | |

The Smiles Of The Bathers

 The smiles of the bathers fade as they leave the water,
And the lover feels sadness fall as it ends, as he leaves his love.
The scholar, closing his book as the midnight clock strikes, is hollow and old: The pilot's relief on landing is no release.
These perfect and private things, walling us in, have imperfect and public endings-- Water and wind and flight, remembered words and the act of love Are but interruptions.
And the world, like a beast, impatient and quick, Waits only for those who are dead.
No death for you.
You are involved.


by Weldon Kees | |

Late Evening Song

 For a while
Let it be enough:
The responsive smile,
Though effort goes into it.
Across the warm room Shared in candlelight, This look beyond shame, Possible now, at night, Goes out to yours.
Hidden by day And shaped by fires Grown dead, gone gray, That burned in other rooms I knew Too long ago to mark, It forms again.
I look at you Across those fires and the dark.


by Weldon Kees | |

The Upstairs Room

 It must have been in March the rug wore through.
Now the day passes and I stare At warped pine boards my father's father nailed, At the twisted grain.
Exposed, where emptiness allows, Are the wormholes of eighty years; four generations' shoes Stumble and scrape and fall To the floor my father stained, The new blood streaming from his head.
The drift Of autumn fires and a century's cigars, that gun's Magnanimous and brutal smoke, endure.
In March the rug was ragged as the past.
The thread rots like the lives we fasten on.
Now it is August, And the floor is blank, worn smooth, And, for my life, imperishable.


by Weldon Kees | |

The End Of The Library

 When the coal
Gave out, we began
Burning the books, one by one;
First the set
Of Bulwer-Lytton
And then the Walter Scott.
They gave a lot of warmth.
Toward the end, in February, flames Consumed the Greek Tragedians and Baudelaire, Proust, Robert Burton And the Po-Chu-i.
Ice Thickened on the sills.
More for the sake of the cat, We said, than for ourselves, Who huddled, shivering, Against the stove All winter long.


by Weldon Kees | |

A Musicians Wife

 Between the visits to the shock ward
The doctors used to let you play
On the old upright Baldwin
Donated by a former patient
Who is said to be quite stable now.
And all day long you played Chopin, Badly and hauntingly, when you weren't Screaming on the porch that looked Like an enormous birdcage.
Or sat In your room and stared out at the sky.
You never looked at me at all.
I used to walk down to where the bus stopped Over the hill where the eucalyptus trees Moved in the fog, and stared down At the lights coming on, in the white rooms.
And always, when I came back to my sister's I used to get out the records you made The year before all your terrible trouble, The records the critics praised and nobody bought That are almost worn out now.
Now, sometimes I wake in the night And hear the sound of dead leaves against the shutters.
And then a distant Music starts, a music out of an abyss, And it is dawn before I sleep again.


by Weldon Kees | |

La Vita Nuova

 Last summer, in the blue heat,
Over the beach, in the burning air,
A legless beggar lurched on calloused fists
To where I waited with the sun-dazed birds.
He said, "The summer boils away.
My life Joins to another life; this parched skin Dries and dies and flakes away, Becomes your costume when the torn leaves blow.
" --Thus in the losing autumn, Over the streets, I now lurch Legless to your side and speak your name Under a gray sky ripped apart By thunder and the changing wind.


by Weldon Kees | |

The Speakers

 "A equals X," says Mister One.
"A equals B," says Mister Two.
"A equals nothing under the sun But A," says Mister Three.
A few Applaud; some wipe their eyes; Some linger in the shade to see One and Two in neat disguise Decapitating Mister Three.
"This age is not entirely bad.
" It's bad enough, God knows, but you Should know Elizabethans had Sweeneys and Mrs.
Porters too.
The past goes down and disappears, The present stumbles home to bed, The future stretches out in years That no one knows, and you'll be dead.


by Weldon Kees | |

Covering Two Years

 This nothingness that feeds upon itself:
Pencils that turn to water in the hand,
Parts of a sentence, hanging in the air,
Thoughts breaking in the mind like glass,
Blank sheets of paper that reflect the world
Whitened the world that I was silenced by.
There were two years of that.
Slowly, Whatever splits, dissevers, cuts, cracks, ravels, or divides To bring me to that diet of corrosion, burned And flickered to its terminal.
--Now in an older hand I write my name.
Now with a voice grown unfamiliar, I speak to silences of altered rooms, Shaken by knowledge of recurrence and return.


by Weldon Kees | |

Colloquy

 In the broken light, in owl weather,
Webs on the lawn where the leaves end,
I took the thin moon and the sky for cover
To pick the cat's brains and descend
A weedy hill.
I found him groveling Inside the summerhouse, a shadowed bulge, Furred and somnolent.
—"I bring," I said, "besides this dish of liver, and an edge Of cheese, the customary torments, And the usual wonder why we live At all, and why the world thins out and perishes As it has done for me, sieved As I am toward silences.
Where Are we now? Do we know anything?" —Now, on another night, his look endures.
"Give me the dish," he said.
I had his answer, wise as yours.