Street Corner College
Next year the grave grass will cover us.
We stand now, and laugh;
Watching the girls go by;
Betting on slow horses; drinking cheap gin.
We have nothing to do; nowhere to go; nobody.
Last year was a year ago; nothing more.
We weren’t younger then; nor older now.
We manage to have the look the young men have;
We feel nothing behind our faces, one way or other.
We shall probably not be quite dead when we die.
We were never anything all the way; not even soldiers.
We are the insulted, brother, the desolate boys.
Sleepwalkers in a dark and terrible land,
Where solitude is a dirty knife at our throats.
Cold stars watch us, chum
Cold stars and the whores.
The Orange Bears
The orange bears with soft friendly eyes
Who played with me when I was ten,
Christ, before I’d left home they’d had
Their paws smashed in the rolls, their backs
Seared by hot slag, their soft trusting
Bellies kicked in, their tongues ripped
Out, and I went down through the woods
To the smelly crick with Whitman
In the Haldeman-Julius edition,
And I just sat there worrying my thumbnail
Into the cover—What did he know about
Orange bears with their coats all stunk up with soft coal
And the National Guard coming over
From Wheeling to stand in front of the millgates
With drawn bayonets jeering at the strikers?
I remember you would put daisies
On the windowsill at night and in
The morning they’d be so covered with soot
You couldn’t tell what they were anymore.
A hell of a fat chance my orange bears had!
Do The Dead Know What Time It Is?
The old guy put down his beer.
Son, he said,
……….(and a girl came over to the table where we were:
……….asked us by Jack Christ to buy her a drink.)
Son, I am going to tell you something
The like of which nobody ever was told.
……….(and the girl said, I’ve got nothing on tonight;
……….how about you and me going to your place?)
I am going to tell you the story of my mother’s
Meeting with God.
……….(and I whispered to the girl: I don’t have a room,
She walked up to where the top of the world is
And He came right up to her and said
So at last you’ve come home.
……….(but maybe what?
……….I thought I’d like to stay here and talk to you.)
My mother started to cry and God
Put His arms around her.
……….Oh, just talk…we’ll find something.)
She said it was like a fog coming over her face
And light was everywhere and a soft voice saying
You can stop crying now.
……….(what can we talk about that will take all night?
……….and I said that I didn’t know.)
You can stop crying now.
BEHOLD, ONE OF SEVERAL LITTLE CHRISTS, with a curiously haunted ugly face, crouched beneath the first and the last, embracing you in its horrible arms, blowing its fetid breath in your face and using fearful threats of death and of judgment
Their war-boots said bigshots to the plank floor.
I am the timorous mouse, brother mortal, take aim
at my wee brown eye and you will hit William T. God.
Bring her in Leather Face said: he is my leader, a strong boy
And the dirt of many marches is on his soul; swarms
……….of camp fires
In the bush-country, lions like bastard druids, telling us
To come out and give them a taste, and the dust and the sand
When the water is gone and you wonder what you are
Not believing the stuff about flags after you have seen
……….a man dance
Rope-necked on a dirty platform and the pretty girls yelling
Moving their thighs as though Death were coming
into them too.
I am the crafty Caesar and my baby sister shall one day
be whore to all the world, tastefully gowned in your guts.
Beautiful my heart said when I saw her.
She was very young and everything good was in her face.
I could have been Christ if she had touched me.
Nail her to the door my leader said and they put knives
Through her hands and knives through her feet, but
I did not turn my face away
I am a singer of songs and there is no one
Flame of all the world, honor of the wounded tiger.
There is something that has not been said.
There is something that can not be said,
To The Word which is the girl who hangs here.
To the one upon whom her eyes now are
For her pain, for her innocence, for her pigeon-mouthed death
That coos and trills over the fogsweet deeps of her flesh.
For those who killed her and for the strange planet
……….of her dying.
For all the mockery of the just and for the battlements of salt
That man has against the howling dark
There is nothing, there is no voice, no quiet hand,
There is the sneer of the bat and the gull’s fang.
There is a lobster beating his breast and singing,
Yea, singing, I am the answer to your prayer, sugar,
I am the one to come to your window in
……….the first stinking sweat
Of night and I shall bed thee down in star-manure,
A pot of green paint for thy Jerusalem, believe me,
Babe, till the seas gang gok my rod shall comfort thee
I am of the first thing and of the last thing
Mine is the face in your dream
Mine is the body beside you in the night
Why isn’t she dead grumbled the leader
It was getting later than the night had room for
And the lanterns were beginning to look silly
(Birds pleading with something out in the swamp)
Our faces hunched over our brains like tight pods.
We looked again at the maps and a little stream of her blood
Had made a river that we had no fit equipment to cross
And her hand had fallen over the city that we hoped to take
Her hair went over us praying here all of us not the least
Nor the greatest not the pure alone but those who are
On murder the evil more than the good over the lost
……….and the hunted
Over the gambler and the bitch followed by the whole