All the horses do not come in,
and as you watch the lights of the jails
and hospitals wink on and out,
and men handle flags as carefully as babies remember this:
you are a great gutted instrument of heart and belly, carefully planned-
so if you take a plane for Savannah,
take the best plane;
or if you eat chicken on a rock, make it a very special animal.
(You call it a bird; I call birds flowers)
And if you decide to kill somebody,
make it anybody and not somebody:
some men are made of more special, precious
parts: do not kill
if you will
a president or a King
or a man
behind a desk-
these have heavenly longitudes
If you decide,
who stand and smoke and glower;
we are rusty with sadness and feverish
with climbing broken ladders.
we were never children
like your children.
We do not understand love songs
like your inamorata.
Our faces are cracked linoleum,
cracked through heavy, sure feet of our masters.
We are shot through with carrot tops
and poppyseed and tilted grammar;
we waste days like mad blackbirds
and pray for alcoholic nights.
Our silk-sick human smiles wrap around us like somebody else’s confetti:
we do not even belong to the Party.
We are a scene chalked out with the sick white brush of Age.
We smoke, asleep as a dish of figs.
We smoke, dead as a fog.
A bathtub murder
or something quick and bright; our names
in the papers
Known, at last, for a moment
to millions of careless and grape-dull eyes
that hold themselves private
to only flicker and flame
at the poor cracker-barrel jibes
of their conceited, pampered correct comedians.
Known, at last, for a moment,
as they will be known…
… We smoke and the clouds do not notice us.
A cat walks by and shakes Shakespeare off of his back.
Tallow, tallow, candle like wax: our spines
are limp and our consciousness burns
the remaining wick life has
doled out to us.
An old man asked me for a cigarette
and told me his troubles
is what he said:
that Age was a crime
and that Pity picked up the marbles
and that Hatred picked up the
He might have been your father
He might have been a sex-fiend
or a saint.
But whatever he was,
he was condemned
and we stood in the sun and
and looked around
in our leisure
to see who was next in