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By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart
With graceful strategy the circling hawk
Whips my circling sorrow to dive and strike;
Indiscrete for action the poison oak
Thrusts up her flushed face for attack
Lizards and herbs and flowers admonish me,
Strict in their innocence: I am cowardly,
Nor will the mourning-dove condone my fault
Who ******* all hazard for a humble scrap
And when she coos courts punishment. My guilt
Is obvious, and I cannot escape.
A pheasant found a sunflower,
And perched on the arch,
And munched,
A little every day at an early hour.

What a way to go -
Obscene remains ragged on the tall stalk,
Startling the tactful dying all around,
The soothing autumn sinking-away-in-a-glow -

A murdered man on show!
Inside the bearded man,
The crying baby lies
The disarming face is gone
The flowery flesh is worn
And nobody wants to rush in
To his peevish petulant cries
And wipe his bottom or eyes.

He's in a pitiful mess
But the middle-aged man
No matter how hard he tries
Cannot command the love
That came free with his innocence
He bawls in vain in his pain
Such comfort will never never come again.

Why did Blake say
'Sunflower weary of time'?
Every time I see them
they seem to say
Now! with a crash
of cymbals!
Very pleased
and positive
and absolutely delighting
in their own round brightness.


Sorry, Blake!
Now I see what you mean.
Storms and frost have battered
their bright delight
and though they are still upright
nothing could say dejection
more than their weary
hanging heads.
Slapdash into the ****** pan
Is thrown the longed-for son of man.
Between the gossiping cups of tea
God attains mortality.

In the cathedral calm and cold
Kneel the erroneous-memoried old.
But in the womb's cathedral calm
The walls collapse in a birth psalm.

The blood sings from the soiled hand
The apprentice cleans at the washstand.
Undismayed by omission,
For everything, everything is won.

The proof blazes in impudence
Above the miopics of science,
Swaggering in love inviolate,
Over the uninitiate.

And over all the angels dart
Like squadrons in a war apart.
Dropping parachutes of bliss
On everything that is.
Ouch! says the saint as he
Divests himself of the love
Of created objects.
Love! says the hippie
Chickadee dee dee dee!
But when he is bare,
And shivering there
What then? says the hen.
How now? my brown cow.
What is this?
Says the instructress.
A cool snowlocked
Out of earshot
Scream and kiss
Calm? Dead?
A better compost
Than most?
Flowers aren't choosy
Which bee which bug
Come one come all.

Bees and bugs
Aren't choosy either
All entries sweetly natural.

Imagine a flower
Closing its throat
Against a bee it thought a bore.

Who said object
Should excite act
That that was moral?

If only the verb
The act acts,
Why call your sister a *****?

Sin and shame!
Abandon the word
Moral. You can see it's immoral.
In my shattered garden
I lie and cry.
I could scrub floors
And get a sense
Of something done
A neat
I get up
And stumble on
And get slapped back.
I count my blessings
Many, many.
It is no use.
Back and forth
I pace
Carrying a deep despair
Like a fretful child.
There there, despair,
There there.
Nothing dies, it bursts to birth
Before the requiem is half done,
Before the suitable tears are shed
Or the mourning of the underbred
Nags out its course, the death is dead.

The sighs shoot into the long trombone
It blows so hard it shakes the earth.
The flowers in a breathless rush break through;
If one has collapsed, then out spring two,
Insatiable for things to do.

It is unnecessary to atone
For sin: he is the losing one;
With all his conjuror's cheap disguise
No geese fly north because of his lies
No cause is lost, and nothing dies.
Let us invoke a healthy heart-breaking
Towards the horrible world:
Let us say 0 poor people
How can they help being so absurd,
Misguided, abused, misled?

With unsifted saving graces jostling about
On a mucky medley of needs,
Like love-lit ****,
Year after cyclic year
The unidentifiable flying god is missed.

Emotions sit in their heads disguised as judges,
Or are twisted to look like mathematical formulae,
And only a scarce god-given scientist notices
His trembling lip melting the heart of the rat.

Whoever gave us the idea somebody loved us?
Far in our wounded depths faint memories cry,
A vision flickers below subliminally
But immanence looms unbearably: TURN IT OFF! they hiss.
Why am I so frightened
To say I'm me
And publicly acknowledge
My small mastery?
Waiting for sixty years
Till the people take out the horses
And draw me to the theatre
With triumphant voices?
I know this won't happen
Until it's too late
And the deed done (or not done)
So I prevaricate, Egging
them on and keeping
Roads open (just in case)
Go on! Go on and do it
In my place!
Giving love to get it
(The only way to behave).
But hated and naked
Could I stand up and say
*******! or, Be my slave!
To be in a very unfeminine
Very unloving state
Is the desperate need
Of anyone trying to write.
Love Poem
You are buried in my pillow of fever
And burn heavily in my eyeballs. Your odour
Pervades my bed, and will not be laid.

Though you offer me an orphan future
Which I leave untouched on an unknown doorstep
Medicine is the touch of your lip.

If you called as you do call from the bottom of the sea
I would hear you in my grave easily
I would step down to join you happily.

Brushing the lies aside I shall leave my bed
I shall find you under the Rumanian dead
Under the wreck, still arched for attack.
When the incendiaries lit the sky
A face smiled its divine calligraphy:
It was Helen crowned with Troy's debris.

Her unmatchable mouth in the roof
Of blood moved in speech like the home of love,
Hanging its moon of reproof:

'My kiss blots history out.
My landslide legend has forgotten
A thousand thousand bones rotting;

'Under the guilty sea
The ships lie; but accuracy
Has been seduced by me.'

Her smile sailed indiscriminately
Among the squadrons of death majestically
And was reflected on the sea.

'The armless Venus carried Pompei's tears
Better than the raided years
Or the cold dances of chameleon stars.'

Then faded. But the rain
Like lovers' seeds that fall in vain,
Warned me of my sin.
A Bonus
That day i finished
A small piece
For an obscure magazine
I popped it in the box

And such a starry elation
Came over me
That I got whistled at in the street
For the first time in a long time.

I was ***** and roughly dressed
And had circles under my eyes
And far far from flirtation
But so full of completion
Of a deed duly done
An act of consummation
That the freedom and force it engendered
Shone and spun
Out of my old raincoat.

It must have looked like love
Or a fabulous free holiday
To the young men sauntering
Down Berwick Street.
I still think this is most mysterious
For while I was writing it
It was gritty it felt like self-abuse
Constipation, desperately unsocial.
But done done done
Everything in the world
Flowed back
Like a huge bonus.

— The End —