Kenneth Patchen:

There Are Not Many Kingdoms Left


The Slums


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There Are Not Many Kingdoms Left

  I write the lips of the moon upon her shoulders. In a
temple of silvery farawayness I guard her to rest.

  For her bed I write a stillness over all the swans of the
world. With the morning breath of the snow leopard I
cover her against any hurt.

  Using the pen of rivers and mountaintops I store her
pillow with singing.

  Upon her hair I write the looking of the heavens at
early morning.

  -- Away from this kingdom, from this last undefiled
place, I would keep our governments, our civilization, and
all other spirit-forsaken and corrupt institutions.

  O cold beautiful blossoms of the moon moving upon
her shoulders . . . the lips of the moon moving there . . .
where the touch of any other lips would be a profanation.


The Dove walks with sticky feet
Upon the green crowns of the almond tree,
Its feathers smeared over with warmth
Like honey
That dips lazily down into the shadow ...

Anyone standing in that orchard.So filled with peace and sleep,
Would hardly have noticed the hill
With its three strange wooden arms
Lifted above a throng of motionless people
- Above the helmets of Pilate's soldiers
Flashing like silver teeth in the sun.

The Slums

That should be obvious
Of course it won't
Any fool knows that.
Even in the winter.
Consider for a moment.
Consider what!
They never have.
Why now?
Certainly it means nothing.
It's all a lie.
What else could it be?
That's right.
Any way you look at it.
A silk hat.
A fat belly.
A nice church to squat in.
My holy ass...
What should they care about?
It's quaint.
Twelve kids on the fire escape...
Flowers on the windowsill...
You're damn right.
That's the way it is.
That's just the way it is.



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