You want more? You want some more of this shit?
so he puts his weight to his elbow jammed
under the jaw of the other one pinned
there, panicked, panting, his back to the bricks.
The others are loud and jeering and stand
in a jackal circle a spitting-length
away. The cold air is full of bird song.
The sex—sheer sugar—of the flowering trees
turns to powder against the skin, and cakes
the sidewalks pale green, and packs the curbs.
Far away a powerful siren cries.
Someone is about to get his ass kicked.
But now the cruel gang spots someone—okay,
it’s me—who is writing this whole scene down.
It’s so easy to surpass the limits
of the powers of description. What are
you looking at? There are yellow flowers
sprouting from the downspout above their heads.
The powers of discursion are no less
feeble, frail as the least petal. Stop it!
They don’t stop it. The one in trouble is
starting to weep, and the others to laugh,
as the one with the elbow suddenly
slips a white-handled knife from his pocket.
(Is this the big city? Are there dime bags
dropping from the claws of carrion birds?
Have his bad colors taunted the wrong turf?)
No. No. No. This is just my little town,
and the hostile gang is as easily
eight-years-old as twenty, out of grade school
since three o’clock. I’m sorry for my mind,
but the spring has spread a violent seed
and it has taken root in this poem,
as in my heart, in the children beating
each other to a pulp in your city
as well as mine. Is it less barbarous
to turn now toward the beautiful? Once
there was a hillside of white, wild lilies.
The mayapples were spilling there. A first
green froth of spring ferns spread under the pines—
so the pastoral, unperturbed lilies
stand around our absence in the sunlight.
What have we done to deserve the pollen,
the plant persistence of our natures? You
want more? The boys beat the daylights out of
the poor boy and I do nothing to help.
And the flowers are fiction—descriptive,
discursive—designed to suggest my mind
in peace or shame. So are the boys, if
the truth be told. So are the sexual trees.
The knife, you understand, is real. The knife is mine.