Louis Zukofsky: Selected Poetry.
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The Poet


From 55 Poems

To My Wash-Stand

	To my wash-stand
in which I wash
	my left hand
and my right hand

	To my wash-stand
whose base is Grrek
	whose shaft
is marble and is fluted

	To my wash-stand
whose wash-bowl
	is an oval
in a square

	To my wash-stand
whose square is marble
	and inscribes two
smaller ovals to left and right for soap

	Comes a song of
water from the right faucet and the left
	my left and my
right hand mixing hot and cold

	Comes a flow which
if I have called a song
	is a song
entirely in my head

	a song out of imagining
modillions descried above
	my head     a frieze
of stone completing what no longer
	
	is my wash-stand
since its marble has completed
	my getting up each morning
my washing before going to bed

	my look into a mirror
to glimpse half an oval
	as if its half
were half-oval in my head  and the

	climates of many
inscriptions human heads shapes'
	horses elephants' (tusks) others'
scratched in marble tile

	so my wash-stand
in one particular breaking of the 
	tile at which I have
looked and looked

	has opposed to my head
the inscription of a head
	whose coinage is the
coinage of the poor

	observant in waiting
in their getting up mornings
	and in their waiting
going to bed

	carefully attentive
to what they have
	and to what they do not
		have

when a flow of water
	doubled in narrow folds
occasions invertible counterpoints
	over a head  and

	an age in a wash-stand
and in their own heads



Mantis (1934)

Mantis! praying mantis! since your wings' leaves
And your terrified eyes, pins, bright, black and poor
Beg——"Look, take it up" (thoughts' torsion)! "save it!"
I who can't bear to look, cannot touch,——You——
You can——but no one sees you steadying lost
In the cars' drafts on the lit subway stone.

Praying mantis, what wind-up brought you, stone
On which you sometimes prop, prey among leaves
(Is it love's food your raised stomach prays?), lost
Here, stone holds only seats on which the poor
Ride, who rising from the news may trample you——
The shops' crowds a jam with no flies in it.

Even the newsboy who now sees knows it
No us, papers make money, makes stone, stone,
Banks, "it is harmless," he says moving on——You?
Where will he put you? There are no safe leaves
To put you back in here, here's news! too poor
Like all the separate poor to save the lost.

Don't light on my chest, mantis! do——you're lost,
Let the poor laugh at my fright, then see it:
My shame and theirs, you whom old Europe's poor
Call spectre, strawberry, by turns; a stone——
You point——they say——you lead lost children——leaves
Close in the paths men leave, saved, safe with you.

Killed by thorns (once men), who now will save you
Mantis? what male love brings a fly, be lost
Within your mouth, prophetess, harmless to leaves
And hands, faked flower,——the myth is: dead, bones, it
Was assembled, apes wing in wind: On stone,
Mantis, you will die, touch, beg, of the poor.

Android, loving beggar, dive to the poor
As your love would even without head to you,
Graze like machined wheels, green, from off this stone
And preying on each terrified chest, lost
Say, I am old as the globem the moon, it
Is my old shoe, yours, be free as the leaves.

Fly, mantis, on the poor, arise like leaves
The armies of the poor, strength: stone on stone
And buld the new world in your eyes, Save it!



Selection from "A" - 8 (1935-1937)

And of labor:
Light lights in air,
		    on streets, on earth, in earth——
Obvious as that horses eat oats——
 		    Labor as creator,
				      Labor as creature,
To right praise.


			THREE	 HOURS
			    AGONY
			IN THIS CHURCH
			GOOD    FRIDAY


	To provide the two Choirs the work demanded
	He employed his chorus primus and chorus
						  secundus

	Choruses comparatively simple,
	Within th competence of singers
	Not called on to sng figural music,
	The Thomaskirche could provide the two organs
		  	     the score prescribes,
	(The larger, in the west gallery, a two-manual
					   instrument)
	Two orchestras composed of the town's musicians,
	Players in the Thomasschule, University studiosi,
	And members of Bach's Collegium Musicum

		"Pray we our Lord"

	High officials and well-born ladies,
	With devotion,
		joining to sing the first Choral from their
						     books;
	But as the theatrical music proceeded——
		"What does it all mean?"
	One old lady, a widow: 'God help us!
	'Tis surely a comic-Opera!'
		
		'Natural that Bach should enjoy himself
		Had of course to play his music in church'

	And out of respect for what he said about Bach,
	  and the need for amusement in church,
	One would salute with two fingers,
	Out of respect (tho one has known respect
						before)

		two fingers:
			    which
	Touch, sign from, the forehead,
	The personal clarity, after the voice known
					 has spoken.

	
		"How journeyed?"
		Journeyed.
		With impulse master
		music and realted matters.
		Others agonizing, inside all their lives but
						    never really,
		Kept quick notations for cages of song,
		Peered thru the cages to see the yellow,
						  by night light,
 		To hear sounds sweeter than by day,
		By day already exceeded by the instant.


		
		
		Not Joh. Seb. Bach, Director Musices:
		A short and much-needed statement of the
				   requirements of church
		music. With some general reflections
				   	on its decline:
		To perform concerted music as it should be
						rendered,
		both singers and instrumentalists are required.
		.. no one cares to work for nothing.
		.. in the chorus secundus I am obliged to use
		   scholars otherwise available
		.. beneficia, themselves inconsiderable, formerly
		   available for the chorus musicus have
						been withdrawn.
		It is astonishing that.. musicians should
						     be expected
		to play ex tempore any music put before
							     them,
		.. the necessity to earn their.. bread
		allowing them little leisure to perfect their
							technique,
		.. observe how the royal musicians..  are paid.


	    Friends too tired to see differences,
	This, Marx dissociated:
	"Equal right .. presupposes inequality,
	Different people are equal one to another."
	But to make the exploitation by one man of many
						impossible!
	When the opposition between brain and manual work
					will have disappeared,
	When labor will have ceased to be a mere means of
						supporting life,
	
	    Whether it was "impossible for matter to think?"
		Duns Scotus posed.
	    Unbodily substance is an absurdity
		like unbodily body. It is impossible
	    to separate though and matter that thinks.

	    
	    "Described," in Das Kapital, "large-scale industry
	    Not only as the mother of antagonism, but as the
							producer
	    Of the material and spiritual conditions for resolving
						that antagonism.
	    It is true the solution cannot proceed along pleasant
							lines."

		Infinite is a meaningless word: except——it states
		The mind is capable of performing
		     an endless process of addition.
		     

		      

 		     Who by construction have
		     A bird settling like a leaf
		     Will bury Lord Jesu


		     For labor who will sing
		     When spring, the May,
	             Is strength enough?

		     
		     The mirth of all this land
		     Browne, Morel and More
		     (Who speed the plow in May!)

		     Rewarded with a sheaf or more
		     Of an
			  evening——
		

	The poor
			
		      
		     Betrayed and sold.
		      

		     No though exists
	             Completely abstracted from action,
		     Without the solids of bodies
		     There is no geometry,
		     Who acknowledge space——moving
		     Know as many dimensions
					as they have muscles


		     Who have signed to the probability
		     Of a series of 8 red planes,
		     Not 7 followed by a black,
			Greet the arrivals in their veins,
		Know whatever news the future brings to the world
		Should have one constant:  Name?——perhaps Energy.
					Sure, if the flight
		Becomes more and more penetrating
		The simple will be discovered beneath the complex
		Then again the simple under the complex
		And, and, the chain without sight of the last term,
							etc., Etc.

	The facts are not strange to each other.
	When they drive, your choice
	Cannot but be guided by simplicity.
	Not enough to reject the falsely related
	The mirrors of the facts must not be dis-			
						simulated


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