Weldon Kees

(1914 - 1955 / Nebraska / United States)

Dead March


Under the bunker, where the reek of kerosene
Prepared the marriage rite, leader and whore,
Imperfect kindling even in this wind, burn on.

Someone in uniform hums Brahms. Servants prepare
Eyewitness stories as the night comes down, as smoking coals await
Boots on the stone, the occupying troops. Howl ministers.

Deep in Kyffhauser Mountain's underground,
The Holy Roman Emperor snores on, in sleep enduring
Seven centuries. His long red beard

Grows through the table to the floor. He moves a little.
Far in the labyrinth, low thunder rumbles and dies out.
Twitch and lie still. Is Hitler now in the Himalayas?

We are in Cleveland, or Sioux Falls. The architecture
Seems like Omaha, the air pumped in from Düsseldorf.
Cold rain keeps dripping just outside the bars. The testicles

Burst on the table as the commissar
Untwists the vise, removes his gloves, puts down
Izvestia. (Old saboteurs, controlled by Trotsky's

Scheming and unconquered ghost, still threaten Novgorod.)
--And not far from the pits, these bones of ours,
Burned, bleached, and splintering, are shoveled, ready for the fields.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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