Weldon Kees

W
Weldon Kees
1926
The porchlight coming on again,
Early November, the dead leaves
Raked in piles, the wicker swing
Creaking. Across the lots
A phonograph is playing Ja-Da.

An orange moon. I see the lives
Of neighbors, mapped and marred
Like all the wars ahead, and R.
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The Beach in August
The day the fat woman
In the bright blue bathing suit
Walked into the water and died,
I thought about the human
Condition. Pieces of old fruit
Came in and were left by the tide.

What I thought about the human
Condition was this: old fruit
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Land’s End
A day all blue and white, and we
Came out of woods to sand
And snow-capped waves. The sea
Rose with us as we walked, the land
Built dunes, a lighthouse, and a sky of gulls.

Here where I built my life ten years ago,
The day breaks gray and cold;
And brown surf, muddying the shore,
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A Late History
To Herbert Cahoon 1.
Black, under the candlesticks, moving in harness
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The Coming of the Plague
September was when it began.
Locusts dying in the fields; our dogs
Silent, moving like shadows on a wall;
And strange worms crawling; flies of a kind
We had never seen before; huge vineyard moths;
Badgers and snakes, abandoning
Their holes in the field; the fruit gone rotten;
Queer fungi sprouting; the fields and woods
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Aspects of Robinson
Robinson at cards at the Algonquin; a thin
Blue light comes down once more outside the blinds.
Gray men in overcoats are ghosts blown past the door.
The taxis streak the avenues with yellow, orange, and red.
This is Grand Central, Mr. Robinson.

Robinson on a roof above the Heights; the boats
Mourn like the lost. Water is slate, far down.
Through sounds of ice cubes dropped in glass, an osteopath,
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Eight Variations
1.
Prurient tapirs gamboled on our lawns,
But that was quite some time ago.
Now one is accosted by asthmatic bulldogs,
Sluggish in the hedges, ruminant.

Moving through ivy in the park
Near drying waterfalls, we open every gate;
But that grave, shell-white unicorn is gone.
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For My Daughter
Looking into my daughter’s eyes I read
Beneath the innocence of morning flesh
Concealed, hintings of death she does not heed.
Coldest of winds have blown this hair, and mesh
Of seaweed snarled these miniatures of hands;
The night’s slow poison, tolerant and bland,
Has moved her blood. Parched years that I have seen
That may be hers appear: foul, lingering
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Relating to Robinson
Somewhere in Chelsea, early summer;
And, walking in the twilight toward the docks,
I thought I made out Robinson ahead of me.

From an uncurtained second-story room, a radio
Was playing There’s a Small Hotel; a kite
Twisted above dark rooftops and slow drifting birds.
We were alone there, he and I,
Inhabiting the empty street.
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Robinson
The dog stops barking after Robinson has gone.
His act is over. The world is a gray world,
Not without violence, and he kicks under the grand piano,
The nightmare chase well under way.

The mirror from Mexico, stuck to the wall,
Reflects nothing at all. The glass is black.
Robinson alone provides the image Robinsonian.

Which is all of the room—walls, curtains,
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Robinson at Home
Curtains drawn back, the door ajar.
All winter long, it seemed, a darkening
Began. But now the moonlight and the odors of the street
Conspire and combine toward one community.

These are the rooms of Robinson.
Bleached, wan, and colorless this light, as though
All the blurred daybreaks of the spring
Found an asylum here, perhaps for Robinson alone,
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The Speakers
“A equals X,” says Mister One.
“A equals B,” says Mister Two.
“A equals nothing under the sun
But A,” says Mister Three. A few
Applaud; some wipe their eyes;
Some linger in the shade to see
One and Two in neat disguise
Decapitating Mister Three.
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Statement with Rhymes
Plurality is all. I walk among the restaurants,
the theatres, the grocery stores; I ride the cars
and hear of Mrs. Bedford’s teeth and Albuquerque,
strikes unsettled, someone’s simply marvelous date,
news of the German Jews, the baseball scores,
storetalk and whoretalk, talk of wars. I turn
the pages of a thousand books to read
the names of Buddha, Malthus, Walker Evans, Stendhal, André Gide,
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