Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Poem A Day #20

Quite a long poem today, but one of my favorites and quite worth the while.  I'll get right to it without comment.


Great brass bell of austerity
and the ghosts of old picnickers
ambling under the box-elder when the sobriety
was the drunkenness.  John,

you child, you drumhead, there is no silence
you can't decapitate
and on forgotten places (the octagonal
stand, Windsor, Illinois, the only May Day
of my mind) the fresh breeze
and the summer dresses of girls once blew
but do not now.  They blow instead at the backs
of our ears John,
under the pinon,
that foreign plant with arrogant southern smell.
I yearn for the box-elder and its beautiful
bug, the red striped and black-plated--
your specific insect, in the Sunday after noon.

Oh restore my northern madness
which no one values anymore and shun,
its uses, give them back their darkened instinct
(which I value no more) we are
dedicated to madness that's why I love you
Sousa, you semper fidelis maniac.

And the sweep
of your american arms
bring a single banging street in Nebraska
home, and your shock
when a trillion broads smile at you
their shocking laughter can be heard long after
the picnickers have gone home.

March us home through the spring rain
the belief, the relief
of occasion.

Your soft high flute and brass
remind me of a lost celebration I can't
quite remember,
in which I volunteered as conquerer:
the silence now stretches me
into sadness.

Come back into the street bells
and tin soldiers.
     *     *
But there are no drums
no drums, loudness,
no poinsette shirts,
there is no warning, you won't recognize anyone.

Children and men in every way
milling, gathering daily, (those vacant eyes)
the bread lines of the deprived are here
Los Alamos, 1960, not Salinas
not Stockton.

Thus when mouths are opened,
waves of poison rain will fall, butterflies
do not fly up from any mouth in that area.
     *     *
Let me go away,
shouting alone, laughing
to the air, Sousa be here
when the leaves wear
a blank radio green, for honoring without trim
or place.

   To dwell again in the hinterland
and take your phone,
play to the lovely eyed people in the field
on the hillside.

Hopeful, and kind
merrily, and possible
(as my friend said, "Why can't it be
like this all the time?"
her arms spread out before her.)
     *     *

John Sousa you can't now
amuse a nation with colored drums
even with cymbals, their ears
have lifted the chalice of explosion
a glass of straight malice, and
we wander in Random in the alleys
of their longfaced towns taking
from their sickly mandibles handbills
summoning our joint spirits.

I sing Sousa.

The desire to disintegrate the Earth
is eccentric,
And away from centre
nothing more nor sizeable
nor science
nor ennobling
no purity, no endeavor
toward human grace.
     *     *
We were
on a prominence through
so lovely to the eye eyes
of birds only caught
all the differences
of each house filled hill.

And from the window a spire
of poplar, windows
and brown pater earth buildings.

My eye on the circling bird
my mind lost in the rainy hemlocks of Washington
the body displaced, let it
wander all the way to Random and dwell
in those damp groves
where stand the friends
I love and left: behind me
slumbering under the dark morning sky

are my few friends.

Oh, please
cut wood to warm them
and stalk never appearing animals
to warm them,
I hope they are warm tonight --
bring salmonberries
even pumpkinseed.

Sousa, it can never be
as my friend said
"Why can't it be like this all the time?"
Her arms spread out before her
gauging the alarm,
(with that entablature)
and the triumph of a march
in which no one
is injured.

- Edward Dorn

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