1. Jack London And O. Henry BOTH were jailbirds; no speechmakers at all; speaking best with one foot on a brass rail; a beer glass in the left hand and the right hand employed for gestures.
And both were lights snuffed out... no warning... no lingering:
2. Flat Lands FLAT lands on the end of town where real estate men are crying new subdivisions,
The sunsets pour blood and fire over you hundreds and hundreds of nights, flat lands-blood and fire of sunsets thousands of years have been pouring over you.
And the stars follow the sunsets. One gold star. A shower of blue stars. Blurs of white and gray stars. Vast marching processions of stars arching over you flat lands where frogs sob this April night.
3. Sandhill People I TOOK away three pictures.
One was a white gull forming a half-mile arch from the pines toward Waukegan.
One was a whistle in the little sandhills, a bird crying either to the sunset gone or the dusk come.
4. They All Want To Play Hamlet They all want to play Hamlet.
They have not exactly seen their fathers killed Nor their mothers in a frame-up to kill,
5. Humming Bird Woman WHY should I be wondering
How you would look in black velvet and yellow? in orange and green?
I who cannot remember whether it was a dash of blue
6. Laughing Blue Steel TWO fishes swimming in the sea,
Two birds flying in the air,
Two chisels on an anvil-maybe.
7. Upstairs I too have a garret of old playthings.
I have tin soldiers with broken arms upstairs. I have a wagon and the wheels gone upstairs.
8. Purple Martins IF we were such and so, the same as these,
maybe we too would be slingers and sliders,
tumbling half over in the water mirrors,
9. Sea Slant On up the sea slant,
On up the horizon, The ship limps.
10. Handfuls BLOSSOMS of babies
Blinking their stories
12. Pencils telling where the wind comes from
open a story.
13. Falltime GOLD of a ripe oat straw, gold of a southwest moon,
Canada thistle blue and flimmering larkspur blue,
Tomatoes shining in the October sun with red hearts,
14. Sand Scribblings THE WIND stops, the wind begins.
The wind says stop, begin.
15. Prayers Of Steel Lay me on an anvil, O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar. Let me pry loose old walls.
16. Snow SNOW took us away from the smoke valleys into white mountains, we saw velvet blue cows eating a vermillion grass and they gave us a pink milk.
Snow changes our bones into fog streamers caught by the wind and spelled into many dances.
17. 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.
18. Jungheimer's In western fields of corn and northern timber lands,
They talk about me, a saloon with a soul, The soft red lights, the long curving bar,
19. Jabberers I RISE out of my depths with my language.
You rise out of your depths with your language.
20. And This Will Be All.... And this will be all?
And the gates will never open again?
And the dust and the wind will play around the rusty door hinges and the songs of October moan, Why-oh, why-oh?
21. Broken Tabernacles Have I broken the smaller tabernacles, O Lord?
And in the destruction of these set up the greater and massive, the everlasting tabernacles?
I know nothing today, what I have done and why, O Lord, only I have broken and broken tabernacles.
22. Old Osawatomie JOHN BROWN'S body under the morning stars.
Six feet of dust under the morning stars.
And a panorama of war performs itself
23. Grieg Being Dead GRIEG being dead we may speak of him and his art.
Grieg being dead we can talk about whether he was any good or not.
Grieg being with Ibsen, BjÃ¶rnson, Lief Ericson and the rest,
24. Rusty Crimson (Chirstmas Day, 1917)THE FIVE O'CLOCK prairie sunset is a strong man going to sleep after a long day in a cornfield.
The red dust of a rusty crimson is fixed with two fingers of lavender. A hook of smoke, a woman's nose in charcoal and ... nothing.
25. White Hands FOR the second time in a year this lady with the white hands is brought to the west room second floor of a famous sanatorium.
Her husband is a cornice manufacturer in an Iowa town and the lady has often read papers on Victorian poets before the local literary club.
Yesterday she washed her hands forty seven times during her waking hours and in her sleep moaned restlessly attempting to clean imaginary soiled spots off her hands.
26. Buffalo Bill BOY heart of Johnny Jones-aching to-day?
Aching, and Buffalo Bill in town?
Buffalo Bill and ponies, cowboys, Indians?
27. Trinity Place THE GRAVE of Alexander Hamilton is in Trinity yard at the end of Wall Street.
The grave of Robert Fulton likewise is in Trinity yard where Wall Street stops.
28. The Mayor Of Gary I asked the mayor of Gary about the 12-hour day and the 7-day week.
And the mayor of Gary answered more workmen steal time on the job in Gary than any other place in the United States. "Go into the plants and you will see men sitting around doing nothing--machinery does everything," said the mayor of Gary when I asked him about the 12-hour day and the 7-day week.
29. Two Strangers Breakfast THE LAW says you and I belong to each other, George.
The law says you are mine and I am yours, George.
And there are a million miles of white snowstorms, a million furnaces of hell,
30. Out Of White Lips OUT of white lips a question: Shall seven million dead ask for their blood a little land for the living wives and children, a little land for the living brothers and sisters?
Out of white lips:-Shall they have only air that sweeps round the earth for breath of their nostrils and no footing on the dirt of the earth for their battle-drabbed, battle-soaked shoes?
31. How Yesterday Looked THE HIGH horses of the sea broke their white riders
On the walls that held and counted the hours
The wind lasted.
32. Tawny THESE are the tawny days: your face comes back.
The grapes take on purple: the sunsets redden early on the trellis.
33. Panels THE WEST window is a panel of marching onions.
Five new lilacs nod to the wind and fence boards.
The rain dry fence boards, the stained knot holes, heliograph a peace.
34. Real Estate News ARMOUR AVENUE was the name of this street and door signs on empty houses read 'The Silver Dollar,' 'Swede Annie' and the Christian names of madams such as 'Myrtle' and 'Jenny.'
Scrap iron, rags and bottles fill the front rooms hither and yon and signs in Yiddish say Abe Kaplan & Co. are running junk shops in **** houses of former times.
The segregated district, the Tenderloin, is here no more; the red-lights are gone; the ring of shovels handling scrap iron replaces the banging of pianos and the bawling songs of pimps.Chicago, 1915.
35. Pick Offs THE TELESCOPE picks off star dust
on the clean steel sky and sends it to me.
36. High Conspiratorial Person OUT of the testimony of such reluctant lips, out of the oaths and mouths of such scrupulous liars, out of perjurers whose hands swore by God to the white sun before all men,
Out of a rag saturated with smears and smuts gathered from the footbaths of kings and the loin cloths of ****s, from the scabs of Babylon and Jerusalem to the scabs of London and New York,
37. Manufactured Gods THEY put up big wooden gods.
Then they burned the big wooden gods
And put up brass gods and
38. Hits And Runs I REMEMBER the Chillicothe ball players grappling the Rock Island ball players in a sixteen-inning game ended by darkness.
And the shoulders of the Chillicothe players were a red smoke against the sundown and the shoulders of the Rock Island players were a yellow smoke against the sundown.
And the umpire's voice was hoarse calling balls and strikes and outs and the umpire's throat fought in the dust for a song.
39. Swirl A SWIRL in the air where your head was once, here.
You walked under this tree, spoke to a moon for me
I might almost stand here and believe you alive.
40. Three Ghosts THREE tailors of Tooley Street wrote: We, the People.
The names are forgotten. It is a joke in ghosts.
41. Sleepyheads SLEEP is a maker of makers. Birds sleep. Feet cling to a perch. Look at the balance. Let the legs loosen, the backbone untwist, the head go heavy over, the whole works tumbles a done bird off the perch.
Fox cubs sleep. The pointed head curls round into hind legs and tail. It is a ball of red hair. It is a muff waiting. A wind might whisk it in the air across pastures and rivers, a cocoon, a pod of seeds. The snooze of the black nose is in a circle of red hair.
42. Red-headed Restaurant Cashier 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.
43. 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.
44. People With Proud Chins I TELL them where the wind comes from,
Where the music goes when the fiddle is in the box.
45. Chords IN the morning, a Sunday morning, shadows of sea and adumbrants of rock in her eyes ... horseback in leather boots and leather gauntlets by the sea.
In the evening, a Sunday evening, a rope of pearls on her white shoulders ... and a speaking, brooding black velvet, relapsing to the voiceless ... battering Russian marches on a piano ... drive of blizzards across Nebraska.
46. Hats HATS, where do you belong?
what is under you?
47. Crucible Hot gold runs a winding stream on the inside of a green bowl.
Yellow trickles in a fan figure, scatters a line of skirmishes, spreads a chorus
48. Threes I was a boy when I heard three red words
a thousand Frenchmen died in the streets for: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity--I asked
49. Proud And Beautiful AFTER you have spent all the money modistes and manicures and mannikins will take for fixing you over into a thing the people on the streets call proud and beautiful,
After the shops and fingers have worn out all they have and know and can hope to have and know for the sake of making you what the people on the streets call proud and beautiful,
After there is absolutely nothing more to be done for the sake of staging you as a great enigmatic bird of paradise and they must all declare you to be proud and beautiful,
50. Spanish FASTEN black eyes on me.
I ask nothing of you under the peach trees,
Fasten your black eyes in my gray with the spear of a storm.