And Their Winter And Night In Disguise

by George Oppen

George Oppen

The sea and a crescent strip of beach
Show between the service station and a deserted shack
A creek drains thru the beach
Forming a ditch
There is a discarded super-market cart in the ditch
That beach is the edge of a nation
There is something like shouting along the highway
A California shouting
On the long fast highway over the California mountains
Point Pedro
Its distant life
It is impossible the world should be either good or bad
If its colors are beautiful or if they are not beautiful
If parts of it taste good or if no parts of it taste good
It is as remarkable in one case as the other
As against this
We have suffered fear, we know something of fear
And of humiliation mounting to horror
The world above the edge of the foxhole belongs to the flying bullets, leaden superbeings
For the men grovelling in the foxhole danger, danger in being drawn to them
These little dumps
The poem is about them
Our hearts are twisted
In dead men's pride
Dead men crowd us
Lean over us
In the emplacements
The skull spins
Empty of subject
The hollow ego
Flinching from the war's huge air
Tho we are delivery boys and bartenders
We will choke on each other
Minds may crack
But not for what is discovered
Unless that everyone knew
And kept silent
Our minds are split
To seek the danger out
From among the miserable soldiers

Last updated January 14, 2019