The Sea and the Shadow

by Paul Blackburn

Paul Blackburn

It falls.

The night falls

the night sky falls

a star, the eyes follow, my

hand falls

It is never enough / I

am hardly ever enough

even to myself . .

I go

I go through the streets

I cross avenues, helpless against your anger

I go pulverized through narrow streets with paving stones

Let the walls fall, crumble, fall, crush me finally, end it

the eyes / the hands

Your cunt is tight with anger

I can feel it a block away, your

belly is tight

your asshole is loose with disdain

and fear

And I cannot stand it, your beauty

walks beside me like a

tree in motion under the wind

of my desires, with

standing them / standing in

an emptiness not your own that you hate

and feel it is your own , It is not, it

is mine also, let me, that damned sea,

I will come

It falls.

The half-hour would-be wholeness

falls, the year falls, the mirror

destroys itself / that year, a

brilliant, at times quiescent

star will fall

into the sea

I will come

I lie down /

the trees are bright with resisting

polished under the rain . have shed all their leaves


of summer stretch out behind me endless

like memory like

I destroy myself running through open doors '

leading through empty rooms .

Or there is someone

huddled in a corner

pissing / Yes.

I humiliate my life, piss it away, I am

my shoes, my black pair of sneakers walking

corridors, deserted beaches, cement sidewalks, sit ,

now beneath a chair . torn . quiescent . my

laces flopped sideways on the floor

fit, however,

to the foot, dingy shape of life

smelling of dried sweat, revived

at any warmth

my worn fabric

yes, the corrugations

I shall come

shaping all truths from my own balls, seeking in my skull

even those shaped years ago / I was too young, I looked

for a shadow at ten in the morning which will not appear

until four in the afternoon l my own

with the sun from the other direction and

everything failing

I will come, I

shall come into your body as into the morning world,

as into a city filled with its leisure and softness,

where the soft light falls on the bird, the tree, the wall,

where the sun of mid-day is lost on the shadows of palm trees


Fountains cool it

I shall come through your eyes from the other side, my

water, my mirror

I will come into your belly and make it a sea rolling against me,

come into you soft as sleep / and be real

You will cry the whole afternoon

. [1961/1962]

Paul Blackburn's picture

Paul Blackburn is best known as a Black Mountain Poet because of his role as contributing editor and distributor of the Black Mountain Review: and his subsequent inclusion with the group in Donald Allen’s influential New American Poetry anthology (1960). Many unaware writers and critics fail to discern the complex forms, the sly intelligence, and the reserved elegance of that lyrical gift.... Blackburn was as socially and literarily accessible as lesser poets, and yet he was cut from the fabric of genius.

Last updated December 24, 2014