Freedom's Plow

When a man starts out with nothing,
When a man starts out with his hands
Empty, but clean,
When a man starts to build a world,
He starts first with himself
And the faith that is in his heart-
The strength there,
The will there to build.

First in the heart is the dream-

Chicago

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it

A Poem For Myself

I was born in Mississippi;
I walked barefooted thru the mud.
Born black in Mississippi,
Walked barefooted thru the mud.
But, when I reached the age of twelve
I left that place for good.
My daddy chopped cotton
And he drank his liquor straight.
Said my daddy chopped cotton
And he drank his liquor straight.

Brass Spittoons

Clean the spittoons, boy.
Detroit,
Chicago,
Atlantic City,
Palm Beach.
Clean the spittoons.
The steam in hotel kitchens,
And the smoke in hotel lobbies,
And the slime in hotel spittoons:
Part of my life.

Wild Dreams Of A New Beginning

There's a breathless hush on the freeway tonight
Beyond the ledges of concrete
restaurants fall into dreams
with candlelight couples
Lost Alexandria still burns
in a billion lightbulbs
Lives cross lives
idling at stoplights
Beyond the cloverleaf turnoffs
'Souls eat souls in the general emptiness'

Beans Taste Fine

Now a friend of mine, way back in Chicago
You know, he finally made his pile.
Well he got himself a mansion on Butler and Sheff
An' he was livin' in the latest style;
But I run into him, he was eatin' in a greasy spoon
While parkled in front was his big limousine.
I said, 'Buddy, you've got so much money
How come youre in here, eatin' beans?'
An' he said
'After you've been havin' steak for a long time,

I Like Canadians

By A Foreigner

I like Canadians.
They are so unlike Americans.
They go home at night.
Their cigarettes don't smell bad.
Their hats fit.
They really believe that they won the war.
They don't believe in Literature.
They think Art has been exaggerated.

As I Sat Alone By Blue Ontario's Shores


AS I sat alone, by blue Ontario's shore,
As I mused of these mighty days, and of peace return'd, and the dead
that return no more,
A Phantom, gigantic, superb, with stern visage, accosted me;
Chant me the poem, it said, that comes from the soul of America--
chant me the carol of victory;
And strike up the marches of Libertad--marches more powerful yet;
And sing me before you go, the song of the throes of Democracy.

Howl

For Carl Solomon


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machin-
ery of night,

For Selma

In places like
Selma, Alabama,
Kids say,
In places like
Chicago and New York...
In places like
Chicago and New York
Kids say,
In places like
London and Paris...

Impossible To Tell

to Robert Hass and in memory of Elliot Gilbert


Slow dulcimer, gavotte and bow, in autumn,
Bashõ and his friends go out to view the moon;
In summer, gasoline rainbow in the gutter,

The secret courtesy that courses like ichor
Through the old form of the rude, full-scale joke,
Impossible to tell in writing. 'Bashõ'

Chicago Poet

I saluted a nobody.
I saw him in a looking-glass.
He smiled--so did I.
He crumpled the skin on his forehead, frowning--so did I.
Everything I did he did.
I said, "Hello, I know you."
And I was a liar to say so.

Ah, this. looking-glass man!
Liar, fool, dreamer, play-actor,

A Garden In Chicago

In the mid-city, under an oiled sky,
I lay in a garden of such dusky green
It seemed the dregs of the imagination.
Hedged round by elegant spears of iron fence
My face became a moon to absent suns.
A low heat beat upon my reading face;
There rose no roses in that gritty place
But blue-gray lilacs hung their tassels out.
Hard zinnias and ugly marigolds
And one sweet statue of a child stood by.

Epilogue

O chansons foregoing
You were a seven days' wonder.
When you came out in the magazines
You created considerable stir in Chicago,
And now you are stale and worn out,
You're a very depleted fashion,
A hoop-skirt, a calash,
An homely, transient antiquity.
Only emotion remains.
Your emotions?

The Initiate

St. John of the Cross wore dark glasses
As he passed me on the street.
St. Theresa of Avila, beautiful and grave,
Turned her back on me.

"Soulmate," they hissed. "It's high time."

I was a blind child, a wind-up toy . . .
I was one of death's juggling red balls
On a certain street corner

Of Him I Love Day And Night


OF him I love day and night, I dream'd I heard he was dead;
And I dream'd I went where they had buried him I love--but he was not
in that place;
And I dream'd I wander'd, searching among burial-places, to find him;
And I found that every place was a burial-place;
The houses full of life were equally full of death, (this house is
now;)
The streets, the shipping, the places of amusement, the Chicago,
Boston, Philadelphia, the Mannahatta, were as full of the dead

Song At Sunset


SPLENDOR of ended day, floating and filling me!
Hour prophetic--hour resuming the past!
Inflating my throat--you, divine average!
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.

Open mouth of my Soul, uttering gladness,
Eyes of my Soul, seeing perfection,
Natural life of me, faithfully praising things;
Corroborating forever the triumph of things.

Fear Is What Quickens Me

1

Many animals that our fathers killed in America
Had quick eyes.
They stared about wildly,
When the moon went dark.
The new moon falls into the freight yards
Of cities in the south,
But the loss of the moon to the dark hands of Chicago
Does not matter to the deer

Nebraska

April doesnt hurt here
Like it does in New England
The ground
Vast and brown
Surrounds dry towns
Located in the dust
Of the coming locust
Live for survival, not for 'kicks'
Be a bangtail describer,
like of shrouded traveler

Changing Of The Seasons

Oh the changing of the seasons it's a pretty thing to see
And though I find this balmy weather pleasin'
There's the wind come from tomorrow and I hear it callin' me
And I'm bound for the changing of the seasons
Oh it's blowin' in Chicago and it's snowin' up in Maine
And the Islands to the south are warm and sunny
And I've got to feel the earth shake and I gotta feel the rain
And I've got to know a taste of more than honey

So don't ask me where I'm goin' or how long I'm gonna be away