Condition of the Working Classes: 1970

You United States, frightened by dreams of Guatemala,

building houses with eight-mile-long wings to imprison the Cubans,
eating a bread made of the sound of sunken buffalo bones,
drinking water turned dark by the shadow of Negroes.
You remember things seen when you were still able to speak—
white wings lying in a field.
And when you try to pass a bill,
long boards fly up, suddenly,
in Nevada,
in ghost towns.

You wave your insubstantial food timidly in the damp air.
You long to return to the shell.
Even at the start Chicago was a place where the cobblestones
got up and flew around at night,
and anarchists fainted as they read The Decline and Fall.
The ground is soaked with water they used to boil dogs.

Your sons dream they have been lost in kinky hair,
no one can find them,
neighbors walk shoulder to shoulder for three days,
but your sons are lost in the immense forest.

And the harsh deer drop,
the businessmen climb into their F-4s,
the chocks are knocked out,
the F-4 shoots off the deck,
          trailing smoke,
dipping slightly,
          as if haunted by the center of the ocean,
then pulling up again, as Locke said it would.

Our spirit is in the baseball rising into the light

So the crippled ships go out into the deep,
sexual orchids fly out to meet the rain,
          the singer sings from deep in his chest,
memory stops,
          black threads string out in the wind,
the eyes of the nation go blind.

The building across the street suddenly explodes,
wild horses run through the long hair on the ground floor.
Cripple Creek’s survivors peer out from an upper-story window,
          blood pours from their ears,
the Sioux dead sleep all night in the rain troughs on the Treasury

The moonlight crouches over the teenager’s body thrown from a car

The weeping child like a fish thrown from the herring block
the black-nosed Avenger leaping off the deck

Women who hear the cry of small animals in their furs
and drive their cars at a hundred miles an hour into trees

:: Robert Bly, in Working Classics: Poems on Industrial Life

No comments:

Post a Comment