“we are suspect men birds earth wrists cuffed
bent over the hood of evening
what are they asking what have we done?
who can blame the birds (whose hearts are a thousand chemicals)
that they hallucinate
the rayon day-cover of the moon?
who decides? who commands the visions of the beasts?
beloved be the mini-flashlights of their notes turned on too early fading
birds too clover in the dusk now to sing
hardly being with
neglected slight-wings of the ardent mother of atrocity
birds! she uses two eggs
cracks them in the middle”
— Cal Bedient, from “Evening in the Company of Undecided Birds”
a thunderstorm hung on the rooftops,
then broke, in lightning, in torrents.
I stared at lines of cement, of glass
with screams inside them, wounds mixed in and limbs,
mine also, who have survived. Carefully, looking
now at the bricks, embattled, now at the dry page,
I heard the word
of a poet expire, or change
to another voice, no longer for us. The oppressed
are oppressed and quiet, the quiet oppressors
talk on the telephone, hatred is courteous, and I too
begin to think I no longer know who’s to blame.
Write, I say to myself, hate those
who gently lead into nothingness
the men and women who are your companions
and think they no longer know. Among the enemies’ names
write your own too. The thunderstorm,
with its crashing, has passed. To copy
those battles nature’s not strong enough. Poetry
changes nothing. Nothing is certain. But write.
“All things considered, it’s a gentle and undemanding
planet, even here. Far gentler
Here than any of a dozen other places. The trouble is
always and only with what we build on top of it.
There’s nobody else to blame. You can’t fix it and you
can’t make it go away. It does no good appealing
To some ill-invented Thunderer
Brooding above some unimaginable crag…
It’s ours. Right down to the last small hinge it
all depends for its existence
Only and utterly upon our sufferance…
You can’t fix it. You can’t make it go away.
I don’t know what you’re going to do about it,
But I know what I’m going to do about it. I’m just
going to walk away from it. Maybe
A small part of it will die if I’m not around
feeding it anymore.”
-Lew Welch, from “Chicago Poem” (via)