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Cover Library Poetry A Hot January

Baba remembers and other poems

John Horváth Jr.
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink MapWhiting, East Chicago, Hammond, Gary
whatever tomorrows yesterdays promised
have passed away with the passing of days
overlong and too brief nights
They wash their feet
they do their dance
so beautiful their dancing feet
their lovely feet they seem to rise to dance on clouds
through night such lovely feet so beautiful their dance
their footprints and the music of the dance become the stars
They wash their feet
they do their dance
that both supports and quakes the earth
their lovely dance it seems to raise them up beyond the clouds
and into night such lovely feet so beautiful their dance
its dust, their dust, the music of the dance become the stars
they do their dance
so beautiful their dancing feet
They wash their feet
all of one mind, each dedicated to the dance
they do their dance so very beautiful their dancing feet
their lovely feet they rise and travel above clouds
through night their lovely feet whirl above the clouds
They wash their feet
The morning dew
They wash their feet
My children dance;
my children dance;
Dance, Children, dance.
They wash their feet
and make the dew
the morning dew
a vintage crushed by dancing feet
When I am gone when God I meet
He may award me with eternal dancing feet
When I stopped weighing my great dead stone
hope against flat mortise comfort of home
then I fell under sway of the rib—
firm and sure the keel that pebbled me
from the shore Westwardly wantonly
        bouncing the crests, the brief caress,
        the wet between moments of rest.
Had I been notched like mill grinding-stone
the sea might have worn edges to sand
and I’d have become soft to the touch
but there are tides even the dead stone
must abide, tides that rock the world,
        swell the sea, calm the harsh ribs, wash
        pebbles, polish them to a gleam.
There comes always that youngster,
bucket in hand, who mistakes
the cold common for a gem
the shell for something alive.
        No, child, not your Baba, only
        cargo in the ship’s hold
        ores to build new bridges.
I have grown fat living off hands that feed me pennies
For oilpaintings of sons or wives, lovers or mistresses
Who inbred look too much like one another. I’ve land-
Scapes hung in my basement and abstractions clutter
My attic. Portraits of people I’ve known, grown to hate
During exile, are meats to keep me thriving; I eat souls.
They love the smoothing of their wrinkles, that burial
Of hairy moles, and the grace I give their canvas flesh.
The mayor’s ugly whore, his wife’s lover hidden
In the background are beautiful to knowing eyes.
They do not see demons hid in trees, lurking behind
Curtains, shadows within shadows; their souls
Laid bare with strokes that flow like years
From point to point making the paints
Blend ever so slightly. Grown old and fat
These peasants under glass —and I with them—
Who do not know their true faces before their eyes.
They look upon themselves so framed and say that this is art.
The knowledge of true art is in their seeing art in my artifice.
I find no peace in oils nor in canvas that I learn to dread;
I find no peace in the frames rubbed and gilded that hold
Their precious likeness; I too will hang with them one day
Along a wall on the coast looking inward at Middleamerica
And at themselves, a curiosity. And my skin will be rough
As skies, my hair as parched as prairies, and my dark eyes
Will burn like Bessemer furnaces. This is Gary; this, Hammond;
This is East Chicago; Whiting; the Southside of Chicagoland;
Some may say these folk came fleeing
Blindly to America; they came to crown
Her with their crown of thorns. Say, no.
These are souls of the dead and crushed
Whose vital juices have been drawn
From their hearts and homelands.
And every one, though born here,
Now is likewise from a foreign place.
Sugar slaves, cotton slaves, steel slaves—
Slaves are slaves in their minds.
Table of related information
Copyright ©John Horváth Jr., 1998
By the same author RSS
Date of publicationSeptember 1999
Collection RSSA Hot January
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