Year’s End by Weldon Kees

Year’s End by Weldon Kees The state cracked where they left your breath No longer instrument. Along the shore The sand ripped up, and the newer blood Streaked like a vein to every monument. The empty smoke that drifted near the guns Where the stiff motor pounded in the mud Had the smell of a […]

The Upstairs Room by Weldon Kees

The Upstairs Room by Weldon Kees It must have been in March the rug wore through. Now the day passes and I stare At warped pine boards my father’s father nailed, At the twisted grain. Exposed, where emptiness allows, Are the wormholes of eighty years; four generations’ shoes Stumble and scrape and fall To the […]

The Smiles Of The Bathers by Weldon Kees

The Smiles Of The Bathers by Weldon Kees The smiles of the bathers fade as they leave the water, And the lover feels sadness fall as it ends, as he leaves his love. The scholar, closing his book as the midnight clock strikes, is hollow and old: The pilot’s relief on landing is no release. […]

The Furies by Weldon Kees

The Furies by Weldon Kees Not a third that walks beside me, But five or six or more. Whether at dusk or daybreak Or at blinding noon, a retinue Of shadows that no door Excludes.–One like a kind of scrawl, Hands scrawled trembling and blue, A harelipped and hunchbacked dwarf With a smile like a […]

The Doctor Will Return by Weldon Kees

The Doctor Will Return by Weldon Kees The surgical mask, the rubber teat Are singed, give off an evil smell. You seem to weep more now that heat Spreads everywhere we look. It says here none of us is well. The warty spottings on the figurines Are nothing you would care to claim. You seem […]

The Bell From Europe by Weldon Kees

The Bell From Europe by Weldon Kees The tower bell in the Tenth Street Church Rang out nostalgia for the refugee Who knew the source of bells by sound. We liked it, but in ignorance. One meets authorities on bells infrequently. Europe alone made bells with such a tone, Herr Mannheim said. The bell Struck […]

The Beach by Weldon Kees

The Beach by Weldon Kees Squat, unshaven, full of gas, Joseph Samuels, former clerk in four large cities, out of work, waits in the darkened underpass. In sanctuary, out of reach, he stares at the fading light outside: the rain beginning: hears the tide that drums along the empty beach. When drops first fell at […]

Round by Weldon Kees

Round by Weldon Kees “Wondrous life!” cried Marvell at Appleton House. Renan admired Jesus Christ “wholeheartedly.” But here dried ferns keep falling to the floor, And something inside my head Flaps like a worn-out blind. Royal Cortssoz is dead. A blow to the Herald-Tribune. A closet mouse Rattles the wrapper on the breakfast food. Renan […]

Robinson by Weldon Kees

Robinson by Weldon Kees The dog stops barking after Robinson has gone. His act is over. The world is a gray world, Not without violence, and he kicks under the grand piano, The nightmare chase well under way. The mirror from Mexico, stuck to the wall, Reflects nothing at all. The glass is black. Robinson […]

The End Of The Library by Weldon Kees

The End Of The Library by Weldon Kees When the coal Gave out, we began Burning the books, one by one; First the set Of Bulwer-Lytton And then the Walter Scott. They gave a lot of warmth. Toward the end, in February, flames Consumed the Greek Tragedians and Baudelaire, Proust, Robert Burton And the Po-Chu-i. […]

Late Evening Song by Weldon Kees

Late Evening Song by Weldon Kees For a while Let it be enough: The responsive smile, Though effort goes into it. Across the warm room Shared in candlelight, This look beyond shame, Possible now, at night, Goes out to yours. Hidden by day And shaped by fires Grown dead, gone gray, That burned in other […]

La Vita Nuova by Weldon Kees

La Vita Nuova by Weldon Kees Last summer, in the blue heat, Over the beach, in the burning air, A legless beggar lurched on calloused fists To where I waited with the sun-dazed birds. He said, “The summer boils away. My life Joins to another life; this parched skin Dries and dies and flakes away, […]

Interregnum by Weldon Kees

Interregnum by Weldon Kees Butcher the evil millionaire, peasant, And leave him stinking in the square. Torture the chancellor. Leave the ambassador Strung by his thumbs from the pleasant Embassy wall, where the vines were. Then drill your hogs and sons for another war. Fire on the screaming crowd, ambassador, Sick chancellor, brave millionaire, And […]

Dead March by Weldon Kees

Dead March by Weldon Kees 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. […]

Covering Two Years by Weldon Kees

Covering Two Years by Weldon Kees This nothingness that feeds upon itself: Pencils that turn to water in the hand, Parts of a sentence, hanging in the air, Thoughts breaking in the mind like glass, Blank sheets of paper that reflect the world Whitened the world that I was silenced by. There were two years […]

Colloquy by Weldon Kees

Colloquy by Weldon Kees In the broken light, in owl weather, Webs on the lawn where the leaves end, I took the thin moon and the sky for cover To pick the cat’s brains and descend A weedy hill. I found him groveling Inside the summerhouse, a shadowed bulge, Furred and somnolent.—”I bring,” I said, […]

A Pastiche For Eve by Weldon Kees

A Pastiche For Eve by Weldon Kees Unmanageable as history: these Followers of Tammuz to the land That offered no return, where dust Grew thick on every bolt and door. And so the world Chilled, and the women wept, tore at their hair. Yet, in the skies, a goddess governed Sirius, the Dog, Who shines […]

A Musician’s Wife by Weldon Kees

A Musician’s Wife by Weldon Kees Between the visits to the shock ward The doctors used to let you play On the old upright Baldwin Donated by a former patient Who is said to be quite stable now. And all day long you played Chopin, Badly and hauntingly, when you weren’t Screaming on the porch […]

1926 by Weldon Kees

1926 by Weldon Kees The porchlight coming on again, Early November, the dead leaves Raked in piles, the wicker swing Creaking. Across the lots A phonograph is playing Ja-Da. An orange moon. I see the lives Of neighbors, mapped and marred Like all the wars ahead, and R. Insane, B. with his throat cut, Fifteen […]