19.0k
Who Am I?

My head knocks against the stars.
My feet are on the hilltops.
My finger-tips are in the valleys and shores of
     universal life.
Down in the sounding foam of primal things I
     reach my hands and play with pebbles of
     destiny.
I have been to hell and back many times.
I know all about heaven, for I have talked with God.
I dabble in the blood and guts of the terrible.
I know the passionate seizure of beauty
And the marvelous rebellion of man at all signs
     reading "Keep Off."

My name is Truth and I am the most elusive captive
     in the universe.

9.3k
Nigger

I am the nigger.
Singer of songs,
Dancer...
Softer than fluff of cotton...
Harder than dark earth
Roads beaten in the sun
By the bare feet of slaves...
Foam of teeth... breaking crash of laughter...
Red love of the blood of woman,
White love of the tumbling pickaninnies...
Lazy love of the banjo thrum...
Sweated and driven for the harvest-wage,
Loud laughter with hands like hams,
Fists toughened on the handles,
Smiling the slumber dreams of old jungles,
Crazy as the sun and dew and dripping, heaving life
     of the jungle,
Brooding and muttering with memories of shackles:
               I am the nigger.
               Look at me.
               I am the nigger.

I could love you
as dry roots love rain.
I could hold you
as branches in the wind
brandish petals.
Forgive me for speaking so soon.

    Let your heart look
    on white sea spray
    and be lonely.

    Love is a fool star.

    You and a ring of stars
    may mention my name
    and then forget me.

    Love is a fool star.

5.8k
Weeds

FROM the time of the early radishes
To the time of the standing corn
Sleepy Henry Hackerman hoes.
  
There are laws in the village against weeds.
The law says a weed is wrong and shall be killed.
The weeds say life is a white and lovely thing
And the weeds come on and on in irrepressible regiments.
Sleepy Henry Hackerman hoes; and the village law uttering a ban on weeds is unchangeable law.

YOUR bony head, Jazbo, O dock walloper,
Those grappling hooks, those wheelbarrow handlers,
The dome and the wings of you, nigger,
The red roof and the door of you,
I know where your songs came from.
I know why God listens to your, "Walk All Over God's Heaven."
I heard you shooting craps, "My baby's going to have a new dress."
I heard you in the cinders, "I'm going to live anyhow until I die."
I saw five of you with a can of beer on a summer night and I listened to the five of you
    harmonizing six ways to sing, "Way Down Yonder in the Cornfield."
I went away asking where I come from.

Wilson and Pilcer and Snack stood before the zoo elephant.

     Wilson said, "What is its name? Is it from Asia or Africa? Who feeds
it? Is it a he or a she? How old is it? Do they have twins? How much does
it cost to feed? How much does it weigh? If it dies, how much will another
one cost? If it dies, what will they use the bones, the fat, and the hide
for? What use is it besides to look at?"

     Pilcer didn't have any questions; he was murmering to himself, "It's
a house by itself, walls and windows, the ears came from tall cornfields,
by God; the architect of those legs was a workman, by God; he stands like
a bridge out across the deep water; the face is sad and the eyes are kind;
I know elephants are good to babies."

     Snack looked up and down and at last said to himself, "He's a tough
son-of-a-gun outside and I'll bet he's got a strong heart, I'll bet he's
strong as a copper-riveted boiler inside."

     They didn't put up any arguments.
     They didn't throw anything in each other's faces.
     Three men saw the elephant three ways
     And let it go at that.
     They didn't spoil a sunny Sunday afternoon;

"Sunday comes only once a week," they told each other.

5.1k
Hydrangeas

Dragoons, I tell you the white hydrangeas
     turn rust and go soon.
Already mid September a line of brown runs
     over them.
One sunset after another tracks the faces, the
     petals.
Waiting, they look over the fence for what
     way they go.

4.8k
Wind Song

LONG ago I learned how to sleep,
In an old apple orchard where the wind swept by counting its money and throwing it away,
In a wind-gaunt orchard where the limbs forked out and listened or never listened at all,
In a passel of trees where the branches trapped the wind into whistling, "Who, who are you?"
I slept with my head in an elbow on a summer afternoon and there I took a sleep lesson.
There I went away saying: I know why they sleep, I know how they trap the tricky winds.
Long ago I learned how to listen to the singing wind and how to forget and how to hear the deep whine,
Slapping and lapsing under the day blue and the night stars:
  Who, who are you?
  
Who can ever forget
listening to the wind go by
counting its money
and throwing it away?

Musings of a Police Reporter in the Identification Bureau

You have loved forty women, but you have only one thumb.
You have led a hundred secret lives, but you mark only
     one thumb.
You go round the world and fight in a thousand wars and
     win all the world's honors, but when you come back
     home the print of the one thumb your mother gave
     you is the same print of thumb you had in the old
     home when your mother kissed you and said good-by.
Out of the whirling womb of time come millions of men
and their feet crowd the earth and they cut one anothers'
     throats for room to stand and among them all
     are not two thumbs alike.
Somewhere is a Great God of Thumbs who can tell the
     inside story of this.

THE SEA rocks have a green moss.
The pine rocks have red berries.
I have memories of you.
  
Speak to me of how you miss me.
Tell me the hours go long and slow.
  
Speak to me of the drag on your heart,
The iron drag of the long days.
  
I know hours empty as a beggar's tin cup on a rainy day, empty as a soldier's sleeve with an arm lost.
  
Speak to me ...

I thought of killing myself because I am only a bricklayer
      and you a woman who loves the man who runs a drug store.

I don't care like I used to; I lay bricks straighter than I
      used to and I sing slower handling the trowel afternoons.

When the sun is in my eyes and the ladders are shaky and the
      mortar boards go wrong, I think of you.

4.0k
Trafficker

Among the shadows where two streets cross,
A woman lurks in the dark and waits
To move on when a policeman heaves in view.
Smiling a broken smile from a face
Painted over haggard bones and desperate eyes,
All night she offers passers-by what they will
Of her beauty wasted, body faded, claims gone,
And no takers.

WHAT does the hangman think about
When he goes home at night from work?
When he sits down with his wife and
Children for a cup of coffee and a
Plate of ham and eggs, do they ask
Him if it was a good day's work
And everything went well or do they
Stay off some topics and talk about
The weather, base ball, politics
And the comic strips in the papers
And the movies? Do they look at his
Hands when he reaches for the coffee
Or the ham and eggs? If the little
Ones say, Daddy, play horse, here's
A rope-does he answer like a joke:
I seen enough rope for today?
Or does his face light up like a
Bonfire of joy and does he say:
It's a good and dandy world we live
In. And if a white face moon looks
In through a window where a baby girl
Sleeps and the moon gleams mix with
Baby ears and baby hair-the hangman-
How does he act then? It must be easy
For him. Anything is easy for a hangman,
I guess.

SHAKE back your hair, O red-headed girl.
Let go your laughter and keep your two proud freckles on your chin.
Somewhere is a man looking for a red-headed girl and some day maybe he will look into your eyes for a restaurant cashier and find a lover, maybe.
Around and around go ten thousand men hunting a red headed girl with two freckles on her chin.
I have seen them hunting, hunting.
  Shake back your hair; let go your laughter.

3.6k
Lawyer

WHEN the jury files in to deliver a verdict after weeks of direct and cross examinations, hot clashes of lawyers and cool decisions of the judge,
There are points of high silence-twiddling of thumbs is at an end-bailiffs near cuspidors take fresh chews of tobacco and wait-and the clock has a chance for its ticking to be heard.
A lawyer for the defense clears his throat and holds himself ready if the word is "Guilty" to enter motion for a new trial, speaking in a soft voice, speaking in a voice slightly colored with bitter wrongs mingled with monumental patience, speaking with mythic Atlas shoulders of many preposterous, unjust circumstances.

IT'S a jazz affair, drum crashes and cornet razzes
The trombone pony neighs and the tuba jackass snorts.
The banjo tickles and titters too awful.
The chippies talk about the funnies in the papers.
  The cartoonists weep in their beer.
  Ship riveters talk with their feet
  To the feet of floozies under the tables.
A quartet of white hopes mourn with interspersed snickers:
    "I got the blues.
    I got the blues.
    I got the blues."
And ... as we said earlier:
  The cartoonists weep in their beer.

IN the night, when the sea-winds take the city in their arms,
And cool the loud streets that kept their dust noon and afternoon;
In the night, when the sea-birds call to the lights of the city,
The lights that cut on the skyline their name of a city;
In the night, when the trains and wagons start from a long way off
For the city where the people ask bread and want letters;
In the night the city lives too-the day is not all.
In the night there are dancers dancing and singers singing,
And the sailors and soldiers look for numbers on doors.
In the night the sea-winds take the city in their arms.

HUNTINGTON sleeps in a house six feet long.
Huntington dreams of railroads he built and owned.
Huntington dreams of ten thousand men saying: Yes, sir.

Blithery sleeps in a house six feet long.
Blithery dreams of rails and ties he laid.
Blithery dreams of saying to Huntington: Yes, sir.

Huntington,
Blithery, sleep in houses six feet long.

3.3k
Dream Girl

You will come one day in a waver of love,
Tender as dew, impetuous as rain,
The tan of the sun will be on your skin,
The purr of the breeze in your murmuring speech,
You will pose with a hill-flower grace.

You will come, with your slim, expressive arms,
A poise of the head no sculptor has caught
And nuances spoken with shoulder and neck,
Your face in a pass-and-repass of moods
As many as skies in delicate change
Of cloud and blue and flimmering sun.

                    Yet,
You may not come, O girl of a dream,
We may but pass as the world goes by
And take from a look of eyes into eyes,
A film of hope and a memoried day.

3.3k
Window

Night from a railroad car window
Is a great, dark, soft thing
Broken across with slashes of light.

3.2k
Early Moon

THE BABY moon, a canoe, a silver papoose canoe, sails and sails in the Indian west.
A ring of silver foxes, a mist of silver foxes, sit and sit around the Indian moon.
One yellow star for a runner, and rows of blue stars for more runners, keep a line of watchers.
O foxes, baby moon, runners, you are the panel of memory, fire-white writing to-night of the Red Man's dreams.
Who squats, legs crossed and arms folded, matching its look against the moon-face, the star-faces, of the West?
Who are the Mississippi Valley ghosts, of copper foreheads, riding wiry ponies in the night?-no bridles, love-arms on the pony necks, riding in the night a long old trail?
Why do they always come back when the silver foxes sit around the early moon, a silver papoose, in the Indian west?

3.0k
Alley Rats

THEY were calling certain styles of whiskers by the name of "lilacs."
And another manner of beard assumed in their chatter a verbal guise
Of "mutton chops," "galways," "feather dusters."
  
Metaphors such as these sprang from their lips while other street cries
Sprang from sparrows finding scattered oats among interstices of the curb.
Ah-hah these metaphors-and Ah-hah these boys-among the police they were known
As the Dirty Dozen and their names took the front pages of newspapers
And two of them croaked on the same day at a "necktie party" ... if we employ the metaphors of their lips.

THE WASHERWOMAN is a member of the Salvation Army.
And over the tub of suds rubbing underwear clean
She sings that Jesus will wash her sins away
And the red wrongs she has done God and man
Shall be white as driven snow.
Rubbing underwear she sings of the Last Great Washday.

THEY all want to play Hamlet.
They have not exactly seen their fathers killed
Nor their mothers in a frame-up to kill,
Nor an Ophelia dying with a dust gagging the heart,
Not exactly the spinning circles of singing golden spiders,
Not exactly this have they got at nor the meaning of flowers-O flowers, flowers slung by a dancing girl-in the saddest play the inkfish, Shakespeare, ever wrote;
Yet they all want to play Hamlet because it is sad like all actors are sad and to stand by an open grave with a joker's skull in the hand and then to say over slow and say over slow wise, keen, beautiful words masking a heart that's breaking, breaking,
This is something that calls and calls to their blood.
They are acting when they talk about it and they know it is acting to be particular about it and yet: They all want to play Hamlet.

2.8k
Pencils

PENCILS
telling where the wind comes from
  open a story.
  
  Pencils
telling where the wind goes
  end a story.
  
These eager pencils
come to a stop
.. only .. when the stars high over
come to a stop.
  
Out of cabalistic to-morrows
come cryptic babies calling life
a strong and a lovely thing.
I have seen neither these
nor the stars high over
come to a stop.
Neither these nor the sea horses
running with the clocks of the moon.
Nor even a shooting star
snatching a pencil of fire
writing a curve of gold and white.
Like you .. I counted the shooting stars of a winter
night and my head was dizzy with all
of them calling one by one:
  
        Look for us again.

2.7k
Gypsy

I asked a gypsy pal
To imitate an old image
And speak old wisdom.
She drew in her chin,
Made her neck and head
The top piece of a Nile obelisk
     and said:
Snatch off the gag from thy mouth, child,
And be free to keep silence.
Tell no man anything for no man listens,
Yet hold thy lips ready to speak.

2.7k
Brass Keys

JOY ... weaving two violet petals for a coat lapel ... painting on a slab of night sky a Christ face ... slipping new brass keys into rusty iron locks and shouldering till at last the door gives and we are in a new room ... forever and ever violet petals, slabs, the Christ face, brass keys and new rooms.
  
are we near or far?... is there anything else?... who comes back?... and why does love ask nothing and give all? and why is love rare as a tailed comet shaking guesses out of men at telescopes ten feet long? why does the mystery sit with its chin on the lean forearm of women in gray eyes and women in hazel eyes?
  
are any of these less proud, less important, than a cross-examining lawyer? are any of these less perfect than the front page of a morning newspaper?
  
the answers are not computed and attested in the back of an arithmetic for the verifications of the lazy
  
there is no authority in the phone book for us to call and ask the why, the wherefore, and the howbeit it's ... a riddle ... by God.

THE BUFFALOES are gone.
And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they pawed the prairie sod into dust with their hoofs, their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone.

THE PAWN-SHOP man knows hunger,
And how far hunger has eaten the heart
Of one who comes with an old keepsake.
Here are wedding rings and baby bracelets,
Scarf pins and shoe buckles, jeweled garters,
Old-fashioned knives with inlaid handles,
Watches of old gold and silver,
Old coins worn with finger-marks.
They tell stories.

2.6k
Mask

Fling your red scarf faster and faster, dancer.
It is summer and the sun loves a million green leaves,
     masses of green.
Your red scarf flashes across them calling and a-calling.
The silk and flare of it is a great soprano leading a
     chorus
Carried along in a rouse of voices reaching for the heart
     of the world.
Your toes are singing to meet the song of your arms:

Let the red scarf go swifter.
Summer and the sun command you.

BURY this old Illinois farmer with respect.
He slept the Illinois nights of his life after days of work in Illinois cornfields.
Now he goes on a long sleep.
The wind he listened to in the cornsilk and the tassels, the wind that combed his red beard zero mornings when the snow lay white on the yellow ears in the bushel basket at the corncrib,
The same wind will now blow over the place here where his hands must dream of Illinois corn.

2.5k
A Fence

Now the stone house on the lake front is finished and the
     workmen are beginning the fence.
The palings are made of iron bars with steel points that
     can stab the life out of any man who falls on them.
As a fence, it is a masterpiece, and will shut off the rabble
     and all vagabonds and hungry men and all wandering
     children looking for a place to play.
Passing through the bars and over the steel points will go
     nothing except Death and the Rain and To-morrow.

Stuff of the moon
Runs on the lapping sand
Out to the longest shadows.
Under the curving willows,
And round the creep of the wave line,
Fluxions of yellow and dusk on the waters
Make a wide dreaming pansy of an old pond in the night.

Sunday night and the park policemen tell each other it
     is dark as a stack of black cats on Lake Michigan.
A big picnic boat comes home to Chicago from the peach
     farms of Saugatuck.
Hundreds of electric bulbs break the night's darkness, a
     flock of red and yellow birds with wings at a standstill.
Running along the deck railings are festoons and leaping
     in curves are loops of light from prow and stern
     to the tall smokestacks.
Over the hoarse crunch of waves at my pier comes a
     hoarse answer in the rhythmic oompa of the brasses
     playing a Polish folk-song for the home-comers.

2.4k
Joy
Joy

Let a joy keep you.
Reach out your hands
And take it when it runs by,
As the Apache dancer
Clutches his woman.
I have seen them
Live long and laugh loud,
Sent on singing, singing,
Smashed to the heart
Under the ribs
With a terrible love.
Joy always,
Joy everywhere--
Let joy kill you!
Keep away from the little deaths.

2.4k
Broadway

I shall never forget you, Broadway
Your golden and calling lights.

I'll remember you long,
Tall-walled river of rush and play.

Hearts that know you hate you
And lips that have given you laughter
Have gone to their ashes of life and its roses,
Cursing the dreams that were lost
In the dust of your harsh and trampled stones.

2.4k
Cool Tombs

When Abraham Lincoln was shoveled into the tombs,
  he forgot the copperheads and the assassin...
  in the dust, in the cool tombs.

And Ulysses Grant lost all thought of con men and Wall Street,
  cash and collateral turned ashes...
  in the dust, in the cool tombs.

Pocahontas' body, lovely as a poplar, sweet as a red haw
  in November or a pawpaw in May, did she wonder? does she remember?...
  in the dust, in the cool tombs?

Take any streetful of people buying clothes and groceries,
  cheering a hero or throwing confetti and blowing tin horns...
  tell me if the lovers are losers...
  tell me if any get more than the lovers...
  in the dust...
  in the cool tombs.

The lawyers, Bob, know too much.
They are chums of the books of old John Marshall.
They know it all, what a dead hand wrote,
A stiff dead hand and its knuckles crumbling,
The bones of the fingers a thin white ash.
        The lawyers know
        a dead man's thought too well.

In the heels of the higgling lawyers, Bob,
Too many slippery ifs and buts and howevers,
Too much hereinbefore provided whereas,
Too many doors to go in and out of.

When the lawyers are through
What is there left, Bob?
Can a mouse nibble at it
And find enough to fasten a tooth in?

Why is there always a secret singing
When a lawyer cashes in?
Why does a hearse horse snicker
Hauling a lawyer away?

The work of a bricklayer goes to the blue.
The knack of a mason outlasts a moon.
The hands of a plasterer hold a room together.
The land of a farmer wishes him back again.
         Singers of songs and dreamers of plays
         Build a house no wind blows over.
The lawyers--tell me why a hearse horse snickers
         hauling a lawyer's bones.

2.4k
Wilderness

THERE is a wolf in me ... fangs pointed for tearing gashes ... a red tongue for raw meat ... and the hot lapping of blood-I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fox in me ... a silver-gray fox ... I sniff and guess ... I pick things out of the wind and air ... I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers ... I circle and loop and double-cross.

There is a hog in me ... a snout and a belly ... a machinery for eating and grunting ... a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun-I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fish in me ... I know I came from saltblue water-gates ... I scurried with shoals of herring ... I blew waterspouts with porpoises ... before land was ... before the water went down ... before Noah ... before the first chapter of Genesis.

There is a baboon in me ... clambering-clawed ... dog-faced ... yawping a galoot's hunger ... hairy under the armpits ... here are the hawk-eyed hankering men ... here are the blond and blue-eyed women ... here they hide curled asleep waiting ... ready to snarl and kill ... ready to sing and give milk ... waiting-I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.

There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird ... and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want ... and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes-And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.

O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart-and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where-For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.

I am a copper wire slung in the air,
Slim against the sun I make not even a clear line of shadow.
Night and day I keep singing--humming and thrumming:
It is love and war and money; it is the fighting and the
     tears, the work and want,
Death and laughter of men and women passing through
     me, carrier of your speech,
In the rain and the wet dripping, in the dawn and the
     shine drying,
               A copper wire.

Smash down the cities.
Knock the walls to pieces.
Break the factories and cathedrals, warehouses
     and homes
Into loose piles of stone and lumber and black
     burnt wood:
     You are the soldiers and we command you.

Build up the cities.
Set up the walls again.
Put together once more the factories and cathedrals,
     warehouses and homes
Into buildings for life and labor:
     You are workmen and citizens all: We
     command you.

2.3k
Haze

KEEP a red heart of memories
Under the great gray rain sheds of the sky,
Under the open sun and the yellow gloaming embers.
Remember all paydays of lilacs and songbirds;
All starlights of cool memories on storm paths.
  
Out of this prairie rise the faces of dead men.
They speak to me. I can not tell you what they say.
  
Other faces rise on the prairie.
  They are the unborn. The future.
  
Yesterday and to-morrow cross and mix on the skyline
The two are lost in a purple haze. One forgets. One waits.
  
In the yellow dust of sunsets, in the meadows of vermilion eight o'clock June nights ... the dead men and the unborn children speak to me ... I can not tell you what they say ... you listen and you know.
  
I don't care who you are, man:
I know a woman is looking for you
and her soul is a corn-tassel kissing a south-west wind.
(The farm-boy whose face is the color of brick-dust, is calling the cows; he will form the letter X with crossed streams of milk from the teats; he will beat a tattoo on the bottom of a tin pail with X's of milk.)
  
I don't care who you are, man:
I know sons and daughters looking for you
And they are gray dust working toward star paths
And you see them from a garret window when you laugh
At your luck and murmur, "I don't care."
  
I don't care who you are, woman:
I know a man is looking for you
And his soul is a south-west wind kissing a corn-tassel.
  
(The kitchen girl on the farm is throwing oats to the chickens and the buff of their feathers says hello to the sunset's late maroon.)
  
I don't care who you are, woman:
I know sons and daughters looking for you
And they are next year's wheat or the year after hidden in the dark and loam.
  
My love is a yellow hammer spinning circles in Ohio, Indiana. My love is a redbird shooting flights in straight lines in Kentucky and Tennessee. My love is an early robin flaming an ember of copper on her shoulders in March and April. My love is a graybird living in the eaves of a Michigan house all winter. Why is my love always a crying thing of wings?
  
On the Indiana dunes, in the Mississippi marshes, I have asked: Is it only a fishbone on the beach?
Is it only a dog's jaw or a horse's skull whitening in the sun? Is the red heart of man only ashes? Is the flame of it all a white light switched off and the power house wires cut?
  
Why do the prairie roses answer every summer? Why do the changing repeating rains come back out of the salt sea wind-blown? Why do the stars keep their tracks? Why do the cradles of the sky rock new babies?

2.3k
Plaster

"I KNEW a real man once," says Agatha in the splendor of a shagbark hickory tree.
  
Did a man touch his lips to Agatha? Did a man hold her in his arms? Did a man only look at her and pass by?
  
Agatha, far past forty in a splendor of remembrance, says, "I knew a real man once."

A MILLION young workmen straight and strong lay stiff on the grass and roads,
And the million are now under soil and their rottening flesh will in the years feed roots of blood-red roses.
Yes, this million of young workmen slaughtered one another and never saw their red hands.
And oh, it would have been a great job of killing and a new and beautiful thing under the sun if the million knew why they hacked and tore each other to death.
The kings are grinning, the kaiser and the czar-they are alive riding in leather-seated motor cars, and they have their women and roses for ease, and they eat fresh-poached eggs for breakfast, new butter on toast, sitting in tall water-tight houses reading the news of war.
I dreamed a million ghosts of the young workmen rose in their shirts all soaked in crimson ... and yelled:
God damn the grinning kings, God damn the kaiser and the czar.Chicago, 1915.

THREE violins are trying their hearts.
The piece is MacDowell's Wild Rose.
  And the time of the wild rose
  And the leaves of the wild rose
And the dew-shot eyes of the wild rose
Sing in the air over three violins.
Somebody like you was in the heart of MacDowell.
Somebody like you is in three violins.

2.2k
Gargoyle

I SAW a mouth jeering. A smile of melted red iron ran over it. Its laugh was full of nails rattling. It was a child's dream of a mouth.
A fist hit the mouth: knuckles of gun-metal driven by an electric wrist and shoulder. It was a child's dream of an arm.
The fist hit the mouth over and over, again and again. The mouth bled melted iron, and laughed its laughter of nails rattling.
And I saw the more the fist pounded the more the mouth laughed. The fist is pounding and pounding, and the mouth answering.

2.2k
White Ash

THERE is a woman on Michigan Boulevard keeps a parrot and goldfish and two white mice.
  
She used to keep a houseful of girls in kimonos and three pushbuttons on the front door.
  
Now she is alone with a parrot and goldfish and two white mice ... but these are some of her thoughts:
  
The love of a soldier on furlough or a sailor on shore leave burns with a bonfire red and saffron.
  
The love of an emigrant workman whose wife is a thousand miles away burns with a blue smoke.
  
The love of a young man whose sweetheart married an older man for money burns with a sputtering uncertain flame.
  
And there is a love ... one in a thousand ... burns clean and is gone leaving a white ash....
  
And this is a thought she never explains to the parrot and goldfish and two white mice.

2.2k
Government

THE Government--I heard about the Government and
I went out to find it. I said I would look closely at
it when I saw it.
Then I saw a policeman dragging a drunken man to
the callaboose. It was the Government in action.
I saw a ward alderman slip into an office one morning
and talk with a judge. Later in the day the judge
dismissed a case against a pickpocket who was a
live ward worker for the alderman. Again I saw
this was the Government, doing things.
I saw militiamen level their rifles at a crowd of work-
ingmen who were trying to get other workingmen
to stay away from a shop where there was a strike
on. Government in action.

Everywhere I saw that Government is a thing made of
men, that Government has blood and bones, it is
many mouths whispering into many ears, sending
telegrams, aiming rifles, writing orders, saying
"yes" and "no."

Government dies as the men who form it die and are laid
away in their graves and the new Government that
comes after is human, made of heartbeats of blood,
ambitions, lusts, and money running through it all,
money paid and money taken, and money covered
up and spoken of with hushed voices.
A Government is just as secret and mysterious and sensi-
tive as any human sinner carrying a load of germs,
traditions and corpuscles handed down from
fathers and mothers away back.

2.2k
Limited

I am riding on a limited express, one of the crack trains
     of the nation.
Hurtling across the prairie into blue haze and dark air
     go fifteen all-steel coaches holding a thousand people.
(All the coaches shall be scrap and rust and all the men
     and women laughing in the diners and sleepers shall
     pass to ashes.)
I ask a man in the smoker where he is going and he
     answers: "Omaha."

Dreams in the dusk,
Only dreams closing the day
And with the day's close going back
To the gray things, the dark things,
The far, deep things of dreamland.

Dreams, only dreams in the dusk,
Only the old remembered pictures
Of lost days when the day's loss
Wrote in tears the heart's loss.

Tears and loss and broken dreams
May find your heart at dusk.

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