Lew Welch

(August 16, 1926 — May 23, 1971 / Phoenix, Arizona)

Taxi Suite (excerpt: 1. After Anacreon)


When I drive cab
I am moved by strange whistles and wear a hat

When I drive cab
I am the hunter. My prey leaps out from where it
hid, beguiling me with gestures

When I drive cab
all may command me, yet I am in command of all who do

When I drive cab
I am guided by voices descending from the naked air

When I drive cab
A revelation of movement comes to me. They wake now.
Now they want to work or look around. Now they want
drunkenness and heavy food. Now they contrive to love.

When I drive cab
I bring the sailor home from the sea. In the back of
my car he fingers the pelt of his maiden

When I drive cab
I watch for stragglers in the urban order of things.

When I drive cab
I end the only lit and waitful things in miles of
darkened houses

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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  • Eric Paul Shaffer (6/28/2005 12:58:00 PM)

    Lew Welch has been one of my favorite poets since I first read his work over twenty years ago. 'After Anacreon' is a fine example of Lew at his most lyrical even as he proves once more that language is speech. An accessible poem, this one can be read successfully to academic audiences and to taxi drivers at the bar after work. These lines prove that our everyday language is most effective in addressing poems to each other. (Report) Reply

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