A piece of green pepper fell off the wooden salad bowl: so what?
JR's Legit Stuff
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying; And this same flower that smiles today Tomorrow will be dying. The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, The higher he's a-getting, The sooner will his race be run, And nearer he's to setting. That age is best which is the first, When youth and blood are warmer; But being spent, the worse, and worst Times still succeed the former. Then be not coy, but use your time, And while ye may, go marry; For having lost but once your prime, You may forever tarry.
He'd left his belt. She followed him and threw it in the street. Wine: kisses: snake: end of their story. Be- gin again, under- stand what happened; de- spite that battered feeling, it will have been worth it; better to have etc… (—not to have been born at all— Schopenhauer.) But, soft! Enter tears.
In the middle of every field, obscured from the side by grass or cornhusks, is a clearing where she works burying swans alive into the black earth. She only buries their bodies, their wings. She packs the dirt tight around their noodle necks & they shake like long eyelashes in a hurricane. She makes me feed them by hand twice a day for one full year: grain, bits of chopped fish. Then she takes me to the tin toolshed. Again she shows me the world inside her silver transistor radio. She hands me the scythe.
But I love the I, steel I-beam that my father sold. They poured the pig iron into the mold, and it fed out slowly, a bending jelly in the bath, and it hardened, Bessemer, blister, crucible, alloy, and he marketed it, and bought bourbon, and Cream of Wheat, its curl of butter right in the middle of its forehead, he paid for our dresses with his metal sweat, sweet in the morning and sour in the evening. I love the I, frail between its flitches, its hard ground and hard sky, it soars between them like the soul that rushes, back and forth, between the mother and father. What if they had loved each other, how would it have felt to be the strut joining the floor and roof of the truss? I have seen, on his shirt-cardboard, years in her desk, the night they made me, the penciled slope of her temperature rising, and on the peak of the hill, first soldier to reach the crest, the Roman numeral I-- I, I, I, I, girders of identity, head on, embedded in the poem. I love the I for its premise of existence--our I--when I was born, part gelid, I lay with you on the cooling table, we were all there, a forest of felled iron. The I is a pine, resinous, flammable root to crown, which throws its cones as far as it can in a fire.
Black in the fog and in the snow,
Where the great air-hole windows glow,
With rounded rumps,
Upon their knees five urchins squat,
Looking down where the baker, hot,
The thick dough thumps.
They watch his white arm turn the bread,
Ere through an opening flaming red
The loaf he flings.
They hear the good bread baking, while
The chubby baker with a smile
An old tune sings.
Breathing the warmth into their soul,
They squat around the red air-hole,
As a breast warm.
And when, for feasters' midnight bout,
The ready bread is taken out,
In a cake's form;
And while beneath the blackened beams,
Sings every crust of golden gleams,
While the cricket brags,
The hole breathes warmth into the night,
And into them life and delight,
Under their rags,
And the urchins covered with hoar-frost,
On billows of enchantment tossed
Their little souls,
Glue to the grate their little rosy
Noses, singing through the cosy
But with low voices like a prayer,
Bending down to the light down there,
Where heaven gleams.
—So eager that they burst their breeches,
And in the winter wind that screeches
Their linen streams.
The night attendant, a B.U. sophomore, rouses from the mare's-nest of his drowsy head propped on The Meaning of Meaning. He catwalks down our corridor. Azure day makes my agonized blue window bleaker. Crows maunder on the petrified fairway. Absence! My heart grows tense as though a harpoon were sparring for the kill. (This is the house for the "mentally ill.") What use is my sense of humor? I grin at Stanley, now sunk in his sixties, once a Harvard all-American fullback, (if such were possible!) still hoarding the build of a boy in his twenties, as he soaks, a ramrod with a muscle of a seal in his long tub, vaguely urinous from the Victorian plumbing. A kingly granite profile in a crimson gold-cap, worn all day, all night, he thinks only of his figure, of slimming on sherbet and ginger ale-- more cut off from words than a seal. This is the way day breaks in Bowditch Hall at McLean's; the hooded night lights bring out "Bobbie," Porcellian '29, a replica of Louis XVI without the wig-- redolent and roly-poly as a sperm whale, as he swashbuckles about in his birthday suit and horses at chairs. These victorious figures of bravado ossified young. In between the limits of day, hours and hours go by under the crew haircuts and slightly too little nonsensical bachelor twinkle of the Roman Catholic attendants. (There are no Mayflower screwballs in the Catholic Church.) After a hearty New England breakfast, I weigh two hundred pounds this morning. Cock of the walk, I strut in my turtle-necked French sailor's jersey before the metal shaving mirrors, and see the shaky future grow familiar in the pinched, indigenous faces of these thoroughbred mental cases, twice my age and half my weight. We are all old-timers, each of us holds a locked razor.
The god of the back must be a lonely god, god in the shape of man-headed hawk. Long ago a man had been sailing the river and the hawk had been flying beside him for days. Mornings, the man would wake and look, yes, there it was, dark tip-to-tip, the hawk. His hawk, he began to think of it. And after a time he forgot the point of the journey, he only woke each morning to see if the hawk was there, to move if the hawk moved with him, to not rest if the hawk did not rest. And all of this love was done in silence, between animal and animal. There beside him in the air and there beside him in the water, the yoke of the hawk. Once he had a family. Once he had a city to go to and something to bring back. More and more he began to see his life as a story the hawk was telling holding the rat of the field in its claw, meaning There is another world and I will take you in it. This is when he became the god, god of the back, the beautiful brow of leaving.
I want to sleep the sleep of the apples, I want to get far away from the busyness of the cemeteries. I want to sleep the sleep of that child who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea. I don't want them to tell me again how the corpse keeps all its blood, how the decaying mouth goes on begging for water. I'd rather not hear about the torture sessions the grass arranges for nor about how the moon does all its work before dawn with its snakelike nose. I want to sleep for half a second, a second, a minute, a century, but I want everyone to know that I am still alive, that I have a golden manger inside my lips, that I am the little friend of the west wind, that I am the elephantine shadow of my own tears. When it's dawn just throw some sort of cloth over me because I know dawn will toss fistfuls of ants at me, and pour a little hard water over my shoes so that the scorpion claws of the dawn will slip off. Because I want to sleep the sleep of the apples, and learn a mournful song that will clean all earth away from me, because I want to live with that shadowy child who longed to cut his heart open far out at sea.
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up- for you the flag is flung- for you the bugle trills, For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths- for you the shores a-crowding, For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; Here Captain! dear father! This arm beneath your head! It is some dream that on the deck, You've fallen cold and dead. My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will, The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; Exult O shores, and ring O bells! But I with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.