Walt Whitman |
Always our own feuillage!
Always Florida’s green peninsula! Always the priceless delta of Louisiana! Always the
cotton-fields of Alabama and Texas!
Always California’s golden hills and hollows—and the silver mountains of New
Always soft-breath’d Cuba!
Always the vast slope drain’d by the Southern Sea—inseparable with the slopes
by the Eastern and Western Seas;
The area the eighty-third year of These States—the three and a half millions of
The eighteen thousand miles of sea-coast and bay-coast on the main—the thirty
The seven millions of distinct families, and the same number of dwellings—Always
more, branching forth into numberless branches;
Always the free range and diversity! always the continent of Democracy!
Always the prairies, pastures, forests, vast cities, travelers, Kanada, the snows;
Always these compact lands—lands tied at the hips with the belt stringing the huge
Always the West, with strong native persons—the increasing density there—the
friendly, threatening, ironical, scorning invaders;
All sights, South, North, East—all deeds, promiscuously done at all times,
All characters, movements, growths—a few noticed, myriads unnoticed,
Through Mannahatta’s streets I walking, these things gathering;
On interior rivers, by night, in the glare of pine knots, steamboats wooding up;
Sunlight by day on the valley of the Susquehanna, and on the valleys of the Potomac and
Rappahannock, and the valleys of the Roanoke and Delaware;
In their northerly wilds, beasts of prey haunting the Adirondacks, the hills—or
Saginaw waters to drink;
In a lonesome inlet, a sheldrake, lost from the flock, sitting on the water, rocking
In farmers’ barns, oxen in the stable, their harvest labor done—they rest
standing—they are too tired;
Afar on arctic ice, the she-walrus lying drowsily, while her cubs play around;
The hawk sailing where men have not yet sail’d—the farthest polar sea, ripply,
crystalline, open, beyond the floes;
White drift spooning ahead, where the ship in the tempest dashes;
On solid land, what is done in cities, as the bells all strike midnight together;
In primitive woods, the sounds there also sounding—the howl of the wolf, the scream
panther, and the hoarse bellow of the elk;
In winter beneath the hard blue ice of Moosehead Lake—in summer visible through the
waters, the great trout swimming;
In lower latitudes, in warmer air, in the Carolinas, the large black buzzard floating
beyond the tree tops,
Below, the red cedar, festoon’d with tylandria—the pines and cypresses, growing
white sand that spreads far and flat;
Rude boats descending the big Pedee—climbing plants, parasites, with color’d
berries, enveloping huge trees,
The waving drapery on the live oak, trailing long and low, noiselessly waved by the wind;
The camp of Georgia wagoners, just after dark—the supper-fires, and the cooking and
whites and negroes,
Thirty or forty great wagons—the mules, cattle, horses, feeding from troughs,
The shadows, gleams, up under the leaves of the old sycamore-trees—the
black smoke from the pitch-pine, curling and rising;
Southern fishermen fishing—the sounds and inlets of North Carolina’s
shad-fishery and the herring-fishery—the large sweep-seines—the windlasses on
work’d by horses—the clearing, curing, and packing-houses;
Deep in the forest, in piney woods, turpentine dropping from the incisions in the
are the turpentine works,
There are the negroes at work, in good health—the ground in all directions is
—In Tennessee and Kentucky, slaves busy in the coalings, at the forge, by the
at the corn-shucking;
In Virginia, the planter’s son returning after a long absence, joyfully welcom’d
kiss’d by the aged mulatto nurse;
On rivers, boatmen safely moor’d at night-fall, in their boats, under shelter of high
Some of the younger men dance to the sound of the banjo or fiddle—others sit on the
smoking and talking;
Late in the afternoon, the mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing in the Great Dismal
Swamp—there are the greenish waters, the resinous odor, the plenteous moss, the
and the juniper tree;
—Northward, young men of Mannahatta—the target company from an excursion
evening—the musket-muzzles all bear bunches of flowers presented by women;
Children at play—or on his father’s lap a young boy fallen asleep, (how his lips
he smiles in his sleep!)
The scout riding on horseback over the plains west of the Mississippi—he ascends a
sweeps his eye around;
California life—the miner, bearded, dress’d in his rude costume—the stanch
friendship—the sweet air—the graves one, in passing, meets, solitary, just
Down in Texas, the cotton-field, the negro-cabins—drivers driving mules or oxen
carts—cotton bales piled on banks and wharves;
Encircling all, vast-darting, up and wide, the American Soul, with equal
one Dilation or Pride;
—In arriere, the peace-talk with the Iroquois, the aborigines—the calumet, the
good-will, arbitration, and indorsement,
The sachem blowing the smoke first toward the sun and then toward the earth,
The drama of the scalp-dance enacted with painted faces and guttural exclamations,
The setting out of the war-party—the long and stealthy march,
The single-file—the swinging hatchets—the surprise and slaughter of enemies;
—All the acts, scenes, ways, persons, attitudes of These States—reminiscences,
All These States, compact—Every square mile of These States, without excepting a
particle—you also—me also,
Me pleas’d, rambling in lanes and country fields, Paumanok’s fields,
Me, observing the spiral flight of two little yellow butterflies, shuffling between each
ascending high in the air;
The darting swallow, the destroyer of insects—the fall traveler southward, but
northward early in the spring;
The country boy at the close of the day, driving the herd of cows, and shouting to them as
loiter to browse by the road-side;
The city wharf—Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, San
The departing ships, when the sailors heave at the capstan;
—Evening—me in my room—the setting sun,
The setting summer sun shining in my open window, showing the swarm of flies, suspended,
in the air in the centre of the room, darting athwart, up and down, casting swift shadows
on the opposite wall, where the shine is;
The athletic American matron speaking in public to crowds of listeners;
Males, females, immigrants, combinations—the copiousness—the individuality of
each for itself—the money-makers;
Factories, machinery, the mechanical forces—the windlass, lever, pulley—All
The certainty of space, increase, freedom, futurity,
In space, the sporades, the scatter’d islands, the stars—on the firm earth, the
O lands! all so dear to me—what you are, (whatever it is,) I become a part of that,
Southward there, I screaming, with wings slowly flapping, with the myriads of gulls
the coasts of Florida—or in Louisiana, with pelicans breeding;
Otherways, there, atwixt the banks of the Arkansaw, the Rio Grande, the Nueces, the
Tombigbee, the Red River, the Saskatchawan, or the Osage, I with the spring waters
skipping and running;
Northward, on the sands, on some shallow bay of Paumanok, I, with parties of snowy herons
the wet to seek worms and aquatic plants;
Retreating, triumphantly twittering, the king-bird, from piercing the crow with its bill,
amusement—And I triumphantly twittering;
The migrating flock of wild geese alighting in autumn to refresh themselves—the body
flock feed—the sentinels outside move around with erect heads watching, and are from
time reliev’d by other sentinels—And I feeding and taking turns with the rest;
In Kanadian forests, the moose, large as an ox, corner’d by hunters, rising
hind-feet, and plunging with his fore-feet, the hoofs as sharp as knives—And I,
hunters, corner’d and desperate;
In the Mannahatta, streets, piers, shipping, store-houses, and the countless workmen
And I too of the Mannahatta, singing thereof—and no less in myself than the whole of
Mannahatta in itself,
Singing the song of These, my ever united lands—my body no more inevitably united,
part, and made one identity, any more than my lands are inevitably united, and made ONE
Nativities, climates, the grass of the great Pastoral Plains;
Cities, labors, death, animals, products, war, good and evil—these me,
These affording, in all their particulars, endless feuillage to me and to America, how can
than pass the clew of the union of them, to afford the like to you?
Whoever you are! how can I but offer you divine leaves, that you also be eligible as I am?
How can I but, as here, chanting, invite you for yourself to collect bouquets of the
feuillage of These States?
Derek Walcott |
There were still shards of an ancient pastoral
in those shires of the island where the cattle drank
their pools of shadow from an older sky,
surviving from when the landscape copied such objects as
"Herefords at Sunset in the valley of the Wye.
The mountain water that fell white from the mill wheel
sprinkling like petals from the star-apple trees,
and all of the windmills and sugar mills moved by mules
on the treadmill of Monday to Monday, would repeat
in tongues of water and wind and fire, in tongues
of Mission School pickaninnies, like rivers remembering
their source, Parish Trelawny, Parish St David, Parish
St Andrew, the names afflicting the pastures,
the lime groves and fences of marl stone and the cattle
with a docile longing, an epochal content.
And there were, like old wedding lace in an attic,
among the boas and parasols and the tea-colored
daguerreotypes, hints of an epochal happiness
as ordered and infinite to the child
as the great house road to the Great House
down a perspective of casuarinas plunging green manes
in time to the horses, an orderly life
reduced by lorgnettes day and night, one disc the sun,
the other the moon, reduced into a pier glass:
nannies diminished to dolls, mahogany stairways
no larger than those of an album in which
the flash of cutlery yellows, as gamboge as
the piled cakes of teatime on that latticed
bougainvillea verandah that looked down toward
a prospect of Cuyp-like Herefords under a sky
lurid as a porcelain souvenir with these words:
"Herefords at Sunset in the Valley of the Wye.
Strange, that the rancor of hatred hid in that dream
of slow rivers and lily-like parasols, in snaps
of fine old colonial families, curled at the edge
not from age of from fire or the chemicals, no, not at all,
but because, off at its edges, innocently excluded
stood the groom, the cattle boy, the housemaid, the gardeners,
the tenants, the good Negroes down in the village,
their mouth in the locked jaw of a silent scream.
A scream which would open the doors to swing wildly
all night, that was bringing in heavier clouds,
more black smoke than cloud, frightening the cattle
in whose bulging eyes the Great House diminished;
a scorching wind of a scream
that began to extinguish the fireflies,
that dried the water mill creaking to a stop
as it was about to pronounce Parish Trelawny
all over, in the ancient pastoral voice,
a wind that blew all without bending anything,
neither the leaves of the album nor the lime groves;
blew Nanny floating back in white from a feather
to a chimerical, chemical pin speck that shrank
the drinking Herefords to brown porcelain cows
on a mantelpiece, Trelawny trembling with dusk,
the scorched pastures of the old benign Custos; blew
far the decent servants and the lifelong cook,
and shriveled to a shard that ancient pastoral
of dusk in a gilt-edged frame now catching the evening sun
in Jamaica, making both epochs one.
He looked out from the Great House windows on
clouds that still held the fragrance of fire,
he saw the Botanical Gardens officially drown
in a formal dusk, where governors had strolled
and black gardeners had smiled over glinting shears
at the lilies of parasols on the floating lawns,
the flame trees obeyed his will and lowered their wicks,
the flowers tightened their fists in the name of thrift,
the porcelain lamps of ripe cocoa, the magnolia's jet
dimmed on the one circuit with the ginger lilies
and left a lonely bulb on the verandah,
and, had his mandate extended to that ceiling
of star-apple candelabra, he would have ordered
the sky to sleep, saying, I'm tired,
save the starlight for victories, we can't afford it,
leave the moon on for one more hour,and that's it.
But though his power, the given mandate, extended
from tangerine daybreaks to star-apple dusks,
his hand could not dam that ceaseless torrent of dust
that carried the shacks of the poor, to their root-rock music,
down the gullies of Yallahs and August Town,
to lodge them on thorns of maca, with their rags
crucified by cactus, tins, old tires, cartons;
from the black Warieka Hills the sky glowed fierce as
the dials of a million radios,
a throbbing sunset that glowed like a grid
where the dread beat rose from the jukebox of Kingston.
He saw the fountains dried of quadrilles, the water-music
of the country dancers, the fiddlers like fifes
He had to heal
this malarial island in its bath of bay leaves,
its forests tossing with fever, the dry cattle
groaning like winches, the grass that kept shaking
its head to remember its name.
No vowels left
in the mill wheel, the river.
The mountains rolled like whales through phosphorous stars,
as he swayed like a stone down fathoms into sleep,
drawn by that magnet which pulls down half the world
between a star and a star, by that black power
that has the assassin dreaming of snow,
that poleaxes the tyrant to a sleeping child.
The house is rocking at anchor, but as he falls
his mind is a mill wheel in moonlight,
and he hears, in the sleep of his moonlight, the drowned
bell of Port Royal's cathedral, sees the copper pennies
of bubbles rising from the empty eye-pockets
of green buccaneers, the parrot fish floating
from the frayed shoulders of pirates, sea horses
drawing gowned ladies in their liquid promenade
across the moss-green meadows of the sea;
he heard the drowned choirs under Palisadoes,
a hymn ascending to earth from a heaven inverted
by water, a crab climbing the steeple,
and he climbed from that submarine kingdom
as the evening lights came on in the institute,
the scholars lamplit in their own aquarium,
he saw them mouthing like parrot fish, as he passed
upward from that baptism, their history lessons,
the bubbles like ideas which he could not break:
Jamaica was captured by Penn and Venables,
Port Royal perished in a cataclysmic earthquake.
Before the coruscating faÃ§ades of cathedrals
from Santiago to Caracas, where penitential archbishops
washed the feet of paupers (a parenthetical moment
that made the Caribbean a baptismal font,
turned butterflies to stone, and whitened like doves
the buzzards circling municipal garbage),
the Caribbean was borne like an elliptical basin
in the hands of acolytes, and a people were absolved
of a history which they did not commit;
the slave pardoned his whip, and the dispossessed
said the rosary of islands for three hundred years,
a hymn that resounded like the hum of the sea
inside a sea cave, as their knees turned to stone,
while the bodies of patriots were melting down walls
still crusted with mute outcries of La Revolucion!
"San Salvador, pray for us,St.
Thomas, San Domingo,
ora pro nobis, intercede for us, Sancta Lucia
of no eyes," and when the circular chaplet
reached the last black bead of Sancta Trinidad
they began again, their knees drilled into stone,
where Colon had begun, with San Salvador's bead,
beads of black colonies round the necks of Indians.
And while they prayed for an economic miracle,
ulcers formed on the municipal portraits,
the hotels went up, and the casinos and brothels,
and the empires of tobacco, sugar, and bananas,
until a black woman, shawled like a buzzard,
climbed up the stairs and knocked at the door
of his dream, whispering in the ear of the keyhole:
"Let me in, I'm finished with praying, I'm the Revolution.
I am the darker, the older America.
She was as beautiful as a stone in the sunrise,
her voice had the gutturals of machine guns
across khaki deserts where the cactus flower
detonates like grenades, her sex was the slit throat
of an Indian, her hair had the blue-black sheen of the crow.
She was a black umbrella blown inside out
by the wind of revolution, La Madre Dolorosa,
a black rose of sorrow, a black mine of silence,
raped wife, empty mother, Aztec virgin
transfixed by arrows from a thousand guitars,
a stone full of silence, which, if it gave tongue
to the tortures done in the name of the Father,
would curdle the blood of the marauding wolf,
the fountain of generals, poets, and cripples
who danced without moving over their graves
with each revolution; her Caesarean was stitched
by the teeth of machine guns,and every sunset
she carried the Caribbean's elliptical basin
as she had once carried the penitential napkins
to be the footbath of dictators, Trujillo, Machado,
and those whose faces had yellowed like posters
on municipal walls.
Now she stroked his hair
until it turned white, but she would not understand
that he wanted no other power but peace,
that he wanted a revolution without any bloodshed,
he wanted a history without any memory,
streets without statues,
and a geography without myth.
He wanted no armies
but those regiments of bananas, thick lances of cane,
and he sobbed,"I am powerless, except for love.
She faded from him, because he could not kill;
she shrunk to a bat that hung day and night
in the back of his brain.
He rose in his dream.
(to be continued)
Charles Bukowski |
with an Apple Macintosh
you can't run Radio Shack programs
in its disc drive.
nor can a Commodore 64
drive read a file
you have created on an
IBM Personal Computer.
both Kaypro and Osborne computers use
the CP/M operating system
but can't read each other's
for they format (write
on) discs in different
the Tandy 2000 runs MS-DOS but
can't use most programs produced for
the IBM Personal Computer
bits and bytes are
but the wind still blows over
and in the Spring
the turkey buzzard struts and
flounces before his
Marianne Moore |
Another armored animal--scale
lapping scale with spruce-cone regularity until they
form the uninterrupted central
tail-row! This near artichoke with head and legs and grit-equipped
the night miniature artist engineer is,
yes, Leonardo da Vinci's replica--
impressive animal and toiler of whom we seldom hear.
Armor seems extra.
But for him,
the closing ear-ridge--
or bare ear lacking even this small
eminence and similarly safe
contracting nose and eye apertures
impenetrably closable, are not; a true ant-eater,
not cockroach eater, who endures
exhausting solitary trips through unfamiliar ground at night,
returning before sunrise, stepping in the moonlight,
on the moonlight peculiarly, that the outside
edges of his hands may bear the weight and save the claws
the tree, he draws
away from danger unpugnaciously,
with no sound but a harmless hiss; keeping
the fragile grace of the Thomas-
of-Leighton Buzzard Westminster Abbey wrought-iron vine, or
rolls himself into a ball that has
power to defy all effort to unroll it; strongly intailed, neat
head for core, on neck not breaking off, with curled-in-feet.
Nevertheless he has sting-proof scales; and nest
of rocks closed with earth from inside, which can thus
Sun and moon and day and night and man and beast
each with a splendor
which man in all his vileness cannot
set aside; each with an excellence!
"Fearfull yet to be feared," the armored
ant-eater met by the driver-ant does not turn back, but
engulfs what he can, the flattened sword-
edged leafpoints on the tail and artichoke set leg- and body-plates
quivering violently when it retaliates
and swarms on him.
Compact like the furled fringed frill
on the hat-brim of Gargallo's hollow iron head of a
matador, he will drop and will
then walk away
unhurt, although if unintruded on,
he cautiously works down the tree, helped
by his tail.
tail, graceful tool, as a prop or hand or broom or ax, tipped like
an elephant's trunkwith special skin,
is not lost on this ant- and stone-swallowing uninjurable
artichoke which simpletons thought a living fable
whom the stones had nourished, whereas ants had done
Pangolins are not aggressive animals; between
dusk and day they have not unchain-like machine-like
form and frictionless creep of a thing
made graceful by adversities, con-
To explain grace requires
a curious hand.
If that which is at all were not forever,
why would those who graced the spires
with animals and gathered there to rest, on cold luxurious
low stone seats--a monk and monk and monk--between the thus
ingenious roof supports, have slaved to confuse
grace with a kindly manner, time in which to pay a debt,
the cure for sins, a graceful use
of what are yet
approved stone mullions branching out across
the perpendiculars? A sailboat
was the first machine.
for moving quietly also, are models of exactness,
on four legs; on hind feet plantigrade,
with certain postures of a man.
Beneath sun and moon, man slaving
to make his life more sweet, leaves half the flowers worth having,
needing to choose wisely how to use his strength;
a paper-maker like the wasp; a tractor of foodstuffs,
like the ant; spidering a length
of web from bluffs
above a stream; in fighting, mechanicked
like the pangolin; capsizing in
Bedizened or stark
naked, man, the self, the being we call human, writing-
masters to this world, griffons a dark
"Like does not like like that is abnoxious"; and writes error with four
Among animals, one has sense of humor.
Humor saves a few steps, it saves years.
modest and unemotional, and all emotion,
he has everlasting vigor,
power to grow,
though there are few creatures who can make one
breathe faster and make one erecter.
Not afraid of anything is he,
and then goes cowering forth, tread paced to meet an obstacle
at every step.
Consistent with the
formula--warm blood, no gills, two pairs of hands and a few hairs--
is a mammal; there he sits on his own habitat,
The prey of fear, he, always
curtailed, extinguished, thwarted by the dusk, work partly
says to the alternating blaze,
"Again the sun!
anew each day; and new and new and new,
that comes into and steadies my soul.
A R Ammons |
The reason to be autonomous is to stand there,
a cleared instrument, ready to act, to search
the moral realm and actual conditions for what
needs to be done and to do it: fine, the
best, if it works out, but if, like a gun, it
comes in handy to the wrong choice, why then
you see the danger in the effective: better
then an autonomy that stands and looks about,
negotiating nothing, the supreme indifferences:
is anything to be gained where as much is lost:
and if for every action there is an equal and
opposite reaction has the loss been researched
equally with the gain: you can see how the
milling actions of millions could come to a
buzzard-like glide as from a coincidental,
warm bottom of water stuck between chilled
peaks: it is not so easy to say, OK, go on
out and act: who, doing what, to what or
whom: just a minute: should the bunker be
bombed (if it stores gas): should all the
rattlers die just because they rattle: if I
hear the young gentleman vomiter roaring down
the hall in the men's room, should I go and
inquire of him, reducing him to my care: no
wonder the great sayers (who say nothing) sit
about in inaccessible states of mind: no
wonder still wisdom and catatonia appear to
exchange places occasionally: but if anything
were easy, our easy choices soon would carry
away our ignorance with the world-better
let the mixed-up mix and let the surface shine
with all the possibilities, each in itself.
Elizabeth Bishop |
On the fair green hills of Rio
There grows a fearful stain:
The poor who come to Rio
And can't go home again.
On the hills a million people,
A million sparrows, nest,
Like a confused migration
That's had to light and rest,
Building its nests, or houses,
Out of nothing at all, or air.
You'd think a breath would end them,
They perch so lightly there.
But they cling and spread like lichen,
And people come and come.
There's one hill called the Chicken,
And one called Catacomb;
There's the hill of Kerosene,
And the hill of Skeleton,
The hill of Astonishment,
And the hill of Babylon.
Micuçú was a burglar and killer,
An enemy of society.
He had escaped three times
From the worst penitentiary.
They don't know how many he murdered
(Though they say he never raped),
And he wounded two policemen
This last time he escaped.
They said, "He'll go to his auntie,
Who raised him like a son.
She has a little drink shop
On the hill of Babylon.
He did go straight to his auntie,
And he drank a final beer.
He told her, "The soldiers are coming,
And I've got to disappear.
"Ninety years they gave me.
Who wants to live that long?
I'll settle for ninety hours,
On the hill of Babylon.
"Don't tell anyone you saw me.
I'll run as long as I can.
You were good to me, and I love you,
But I'm a doomed man.
Going out, he met a mulata
Carrying water on her head.
"If you say you saw me, daughter,
You're as good as dead.
There are caves up there, and hideouts,
And an old fort, falling down.
They used to watch for Frenchmen
From the hill of Babylon.
Below him was the ocean.
It reached far up the sky,
Flat as a wall, and on it
Were freighters passing by,
Or climbing the wall, and climbing
Till each looked like a fly,
And then fell over and vanished;
And he knew he was going to die.
He could hear the goats baa-baa-ing.
He could hear the babies cry;
Fluttering kites strained upward;
And he knew he was going to die.
A buzzard flapped so near him
He could see its naked neck.
He waved his arms and shouted,
"Not yet, my son, not yet!"
An Army helicopter
Came nosing around and in.
He could see two men inside it,
but they never spotted him.
The soldiers were all over,
On all sides of the hill,
And right against the skyline
A row of them, small and still.
Children peeked out of windows,
And men in the drink shop swore,
And spat a little cachaça
At the light cracks in the floor.
But the soldiers were nervous, even
with tommy guns in hand,
And one of them, in a panic,
Shot the officer in command.
He hit him in three places;
The other shots went wild.
The soldier had hysterics
And sobbed like a little child.
The dying man said, "Finish
The job we came here for.
he committed his soul to God
And his sons to the Governor.
They ran and got a priest,
And he died in hope of Heaven
--A man from Pernambuco,
The youngest of eleven.
They wanted to stop the search,
but the Army said, "No, go on,"
So the soldiers swarmed again
Up the hill of Babylon.
Rich people in apartments
Watched through binoculars
As long as the daylight lasted.
And all night, under the stars,
Micuçú hid in the grasses
Or sat in a little tree,
Listening for sounds, and staring
At the lighthouse out at sea.
And the lighthouse stared back at him,
til finally it was dawn.
He was soaked with dew, and hungry,
On the hill of Babylon.
The yellow sun was ugly,
Like a raw egg on a plate--
Slick from the sea.
He cursed it,
For he knew it sealed his fate.
He saw the long white beaches
And people going to swim,
With towels and beach umbrellas,
But the soldiers were after him.
Far, far below, the people
Were little colored spots,
And the heads of those in swimming
Were floating coconuts.
He heard the peanut vendor
Go peep-peep on his whistle,
And the man that sells umbrellas
Swinging his watchman's rattle.
Women with market baskets
Stood on the corners and talked,
Then went on their way to market,
Gazing up as they walked.
The rich with their binoculars
Were back again, and many
Were standing on the rooftops,
Among TV antennae.
It was early, eight or eight-thirty.
He saw a soldier climb,
Looking right at him.
And missed for the last time.
He could hear the soldier panting,
Though he never got very near.
Micuçú dashed for shelter.
But he got it, behind the ear.
He heard the babies crying
Far, far away in his head,
And the mongrels barking and barking.
Then Micuçú was dead.
He had a Taurus revolver,
And just the clothes he had on,
With two contos in the pockets,
On the hill of Babylon.
The police and the populace
Heaved a sigh of relief,
But behind the counter his auntie
Wiped her eyes in grief.
"We have always been respected.
My shop is honest and clean.
I loved him, but from a baby
Micuçú was mean.
"We have always been respected.
His sister has a job.
Both of us gave him money.
Why did he have to rob?
"I raised him to be honest,
Even here, in Babylon slum.
The customers had another,
Looking serious and glum.
But one of them said to another,
When he got outside the door,
"He wasn't much of a burglar,
He got caught six times--or more.
This morning the little soldiers
are on Babylon hill again;
Their gun barrels and helmets
Shine in a gentle rain.
Micuçú is buried already.
They're after another two,
But they say they aren't as dangerous
As the poor Micuçú.
On the green hills of Rio
There grows a fearful stain:
The poor who come to Rio
And can't go home again.
There's the hill of Kerosene,
And the hill of the Skeleton,
The hill of Astonishment,
And the hill of Babylon.
Chris Tusa |
Marie Laveau, a colored woman who eventually became
known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, often used
her knowledge of Voodoo to manipulate and acquire power.
In one quick lick I waved my mojo hand,
made the Mississippi’s muddy spine
run crooked as a crow’s foot,
scared politicians into my pocket
with lizard tongues and buzzard bones,
convinced the governor to sing my name
under a sharp crescent moon
white as a gator’s tooth.
Now my magic got the whole Vieux Carré
waltzing with redfish and rooster heads,
got Protestants blessing okra and cayenne,
Catholics chasing black cats down Dumaine,
even got Creoles two-stepping with pythons
along the banks of Bayou St.
They say soon my powers gonna fade,
that there’s a noose aloose in the streets
looking for a neck to blame.
But I’m just a lowly colored woman
and ain’t nobody gonna blame a worm
for scaring a catfish onto a hook.
Thomas Lux |
One sweet pound of filet mignon
sizzles on the roadside.
Let's say a hundred yards below
sees no cars or other buzzards
between the mountain range due north
and the horizon to the south
and across the desert west and east
no other creature's nose leads him to this feast.
The buzzard's eyes are built for this: he can see the filet's raw
and he likes the sprig
of parsley in this brown and dusty place.
No abdomens to open here before he eats.
No tearing, slashing with his beak,
to pick and rip the softest parts.
He does not need to threaten or screech
to keep the other buzzards from his meat.
He circles slowly down,
not a flap, not a shiver in his wide wings,
and lands before his dinner, an especially lucky buzzard,
who bends his neck to pray, then eats.
Martin Armstrong |
When evening came and the warm glow grew deeper
And every tree that bordered the green meadows
And in the yellow cornfields every reaper
And every corn-shock stood above their shadows
Flung eastward from their feet in longer measure,
Serenely far there swam in the sunny height
A buzzard and his mate who took their pleasure
Swirling and poising idly in golden light.
On great pied motionless moth-wings borne along,
So effortless and so strong,
Cutting each other's paths, together they glided,
Then wheeled asunder till they soared divided
Two valleys' width (as though it were delight
To part like this, being sure they could unite
So swiftly in their empty, free dominion),
Curved headlong downward, towered up the sunny steep,
Then, with a sudden lift of the one great pinion,
Swung proudly to a curve and from its height
Took half a mile of sunlight in one long sweep.
And we, so small on the swift immense hillside,
Stood tranced, until our souls arose uplifted
On those far-sweeping, wide,
Strong curves of flight, — swayed up and hugely drifted,
Were washed, made strong and beautiful in the tide
Of sun-bathed air.
But far beneath, beholden
Through shining deeps of air, the fields were golden
And rosy burned the heather where cornfields ended.
And still those buzzards wheeled, while light withdrew
Out of the vales and to surging slopes ascended,
Till the loftiest-flaming summit died to blue.
Vachel Lindsay |
I opened the ink-well and smoke filled the room.
The smoke formed the giant frog-cat of my doom.
His web feet left dreadful slime tracks on the floor.
He had hammer and nails that he laid by the door.
He sprawled on the table, claw-hands in my hair.
He looked through my heart to the mud that was there.
Like a black-mailer hating his victim he spoke:
"When I see all your squirming I laugh till I choke
Singing of peace.
Railing at battle.
Soothing a handful with saccharine prattle.
All the millions of earth have voted for fight.
You are voting for talk, with hands lily white.
He leaped to the floor, then grew seven feet high,
Beautiful, terrible, scorn in his eye:
The Devil Eternal, Apollo grown old,
With beard of bright silver and garments of gold.
"What will you do to end war for good?
Will you stand by the book-case, be nailed to the wood?"
I stretched out my arms.
He drove the nails deep,
The house was asleep,
I hung for three years, forbidden to die.
I seemed but a shadow the servants passed by.
At the end of the time with hot irons he returned.
"The Quitter Sublime" on my bosom he burned.
As he seared me he hissed: "You are wearing away.
The good angels tell me you leave them today.
You want to come down from the nails in the door.
The victor must hang there three hundred years more.
If any prig-saint would outvote all mankind
He must use an immortally resolute mind.
Think what the saints of Benares endure,
Through infinite birthpangs their courage is sure.
Self-tortured, self-ruled, they build their powers high,
Until they are gods, overmaster the sky.
Then he pulled out the nails.
He shouted "Come in.
To heal me there stepped in a lady of sin.
Her hand was in mine.
We walked in the sun.
She said: "Now forget them, the Saxon and Hun.
You are dreary and aged and silly and weak.
Let us smell the sweet groves.
Let the summertime speak.
We walked to the river.
We swam there in state.
I was a serpent.
She was my mate.
I forgot in the marsh, as I tumbled about,
That trial in my room, where I did not hold out.
Since I was a serpent, my mate seemed to me
As a mermaiden seems to a fisher at sea,
Or a whisky soaked girl to a whisky soaked king.
She had turned to a ravening thing
On the table — a buzzard with leperous head.
She tore up my rhymes and my drawings.
"I am your own cheap bankrupt soul.
Will you die for the nations, making them whole?
We joy in the swamp and here we are gay.
Will you bring your fine peace to the nations today?"