May 2, 2007

Sitting on a subway train watching all the people lose their senses


David E. Scherman, Lee Miller in Hitler's bathtub, Munich, April 30, 1945

From Disaster
-- by George Oppen

Ultimately the air
Is bare sunlight where must be found
The lyric valuables. From disaster

Shipwreck, whole families crawled
To the tenements, and there

Survived by what morality
Of hope

Which for the sons
Ends its metaphysic
In small lawns of home.

The Crowded Countries of the Bomb
-- by George Oppen

What man could do,
And could not
And chance which has spared us
Choice, which has shielded us

As if a god. What is the name of that place
We have entered:
Despair? Ourselves?

That we can destroy ourselves
Now

Walking in the shelter,
The young and the old,
Of each other's backs and shoulders

Entering the country that is
Impenetrably ours.

About the Party
-- by David Berman

I loved seeing you the other night
(and I think everyone noticed!)
which was the first time I'm estimating
since the Oak Street Psychic Fair
when I first saw your ears
as the two beautiful pink wheels they are
and your powerful boyfriend unnecessarily claimed
that I only spread unhappiness with my harmonica playing.

People see each other all the time
and they can't always figure out how to act,
so it sometimes seems as if the dandelions
growing silently behind the high school
are the only truly outstanding reaction
to existence,
and perhaps because I thought
I had no argument with the world
until the backyard mosquitoes
started penalizing my hands
and Wayne of Wayne's Hair Systems
and Jimmy Food Hill combined
to not let me near you,
it came as such a horrible shock to notice
you looked so damn beautiful
beneath Bob's silver maples
that I about shit my heart out.

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