All projects failed, in the August afternoon
he lay & cursed himself & cursed his lot
like Housman’s lad forsooth.
A breeze sometimes came by. His sunburn itcht.
His wife was out on errands. He sighed & scratcht.
The little girls were fiddling with the telephone.

They wanted candy, the which he gave them.
His entire soul contorted with the phlegm.
The sun burned down.
Photos of him in despair flooded the town
or city. Mourned his many friends, or so.
The little girls were fiddling with the piano.

He crusht a cigarette out. Crusht him out
surprising God, at last, in a wink of time.
His soul was forwarded.
Adressat unbekannt. The little girls with a shout
welcomed the dazzling package. In official rime
the official verdict was: dead.


Quiet his loves lay, at the bottom of his mind.
Now & then, O now & then, at intervals,
he took one out & inspected it.
Like a clown, or a dog trainer, or a strong kind
of man, he placed it under the waterfalls
& expected it to submit.

They did him homage. Which he did repay
with memory. One in the end wrote to him,
saying are you the same one?
He was the same one, & she published his un-
book, long since lost, about a trip to Neptune
in two volumes, let’s say,

in hard brown paper, in her Spenserian hand,
with the title (forgotten) & his then name
& the important date.
O she was a golden one, higher than Henry
by a head, called Helen Justice, and
then, until now, she disappeared.

Copyright © 1976 Kate Berryman

This Issue

July 15, 1976