Saturday, September 8, 2007

Edward Dorn's "In the Morning"/The War So Far From the Wars

Famous for his book-length postmodern opus Gunslinger, Ed Dorn's other poems also evoke the West. This poem, "In the Morning," feels like an abandoned ghost town, the likes of which the Slinger would have walked; its desiccation, though, seems part of a larger imperial abandonment of the already-conquered interiors...

"In the Morning" by Edward Dorn

In a forgotten town
grit flies up in circles of morning dirt
and cans lie here and there on the brown earth,
a dog slips between the houses.
The sun rose large and yellow, no warm
until the taste of warmth at noon for which old men
wait, talking low tones by the brown walls
their talk thickening in that brief transport of heat.

We are pained by fetters of wind around our ankles,
yet there are no screams in this mountain town, the knife
goes deeply but cleanly each malcontent is a surgeon.
In this silent rising holocaust of down people
the garbage scrapes along in the drafts of ice
and mingles in collections on the ground, this is

their binding tie, a contribution parallel to all odds,
all eventualities--
what they have left at the end of the day
oh bereft are they
caught between walls of earth plotting

a short nervous trip to the table of another's gossip.
Somewhere near in the drifting air in
the capitol building toiled in by masses
there is a click click and a woman sitting yawns

but never in the same way stares forward
as the man in our dry town
whose wheelbarrow of wood to warn him senselessly
spills, whose wrists twist yielding to the rock
yielding to the mock buzzing of a sound economy

in the wind struggling, clad in ancient army clothes
so far from the wars.

in Hands Up!
[New York: Totem Press/Corinth Books, 1964

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