By: Ryan King and Tate May
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
This poem states that the cure for loneliness is solitude and describes what it is.
Hopper never painted this, but here
on a snaky path his vision lingers:
three white tombs, robots with glassed-in faces
and meters for eyes, grim mouths, flat noses,
lean forward on a platform, like strangers
with identical frowns scanning a blur,
far off, that might be their train.
Gas tanks broken for decades face Parson’s
smithy, planked shut now. Both relics must stay.
The pumps have roots in gas pools, and the smithy
stores memories of hammers forging scythes
to cut spartina grass for dry salt hay.
The tanks have the remove of local clammers
who sink buckets and stand, never in pairs,
but one and one and one, blank-eyed, alone,
more serene than lonely. Today a woman
rakes in the shallows, then bends to receive
last rays in shimmering water, her long shadow
knifing the bay. She slides into her truck
to watch the sky flame over sand flats, a hawk’s
wind arabesque, an island risen, brown
Atlantis, at low tide; she probes the shoreline
and beyond grassy dunes for where the land
might slope off into night. Hers is no common
emptiness, but a vaster silence filled
with terns’ cries, an abundant solitude.
Nearby, the three dry gas pumps, worn
survivors of clam-digging generations,
are luminous, and have an exile’s grandeur
that says: In perfect solitude, there’s fire.
One day I approached the vessels
and wanted to drive on, the road ablaze
with dogwood in full bloom, but the contraptions
outdazzled the road’s white, even outshone
a bleached shirt flapping alone
on a laundry line, arms pointed down.
High noon. Three urns, ironic in their outcast
dignity—as though, like some pine chests,
they might be prized in disuse—cast rays,
spun leaf—covered numbers, clanked, then wheezed
and stopped again. Shadows cut the road
before I drove off into the dark woods.
The poem's meaning is that the people are having a ball and are getting lost in the American music.
We were dancing—it must have
been a foxtrot or a waltz,
something romantic but
rise and fall, precise
execution as we moved
into the next song without
stopping, two chests heaving
above a seven-league
stride—such perfect agony,
one learns to smile through,
being the sine qua non
of American Smooth.
And because I was distracted
by the effort of
keeping my frame
(the leftward lean, head turned
just enough to gaze out
past your ear and always
I didn’t notice
how still you’d become until
we had done it
(for two measures?
that swift and serene
before the earth
remembered who we were
and brought us down
This poem talks about a soldier who is poor and fights for his country.
Deep in a vale, a stranger now to arms,
Too poor to shine in courts, too proud to beg,
He, who once warred on Saratoga’s plains,
Sits musing o’er his scars, and wooden leg.
Remembering still the toil of former days,
To other hands he sees his earnings paid;--
They share the due reward—he feeds on praise.
Lost in the abyss of want, misfortune’s shade.
Far, far from domes where splendid tapers glare,
‘Tis his from dear bought peace no wealth to win,
Removed alike from courtly cringing ‘squires,
The great-man’s Levee, and the proud man’s grin.
Sold are those arms which once on Britons blazed,
When, flushed with conquest, to the charge they came;
That power repelled, and Freedom’s fabrick raised,
She leaves her soldier—famine and a name!