private school children on the crosstown bus

by W.E.R. La Farge (1975)

this is not highway robbery, nor is it course, open mugging
nor the addict’s awkward snatch, as he flails his way to
his high
this is elegant work
cold, systematic pillaging
each day your humanity sacked
pieces of it carried out
like stones from a looted church
& you are handed in return gaudy baubles
which you display now on the bus

the island across which we ride
was sold for a few furs & trinkets
by men whose minds, like yours, were still undrained
of primordial waters
there was no landing place for the intuitions
which hovered, like pigeons, over the event
so I see you now, in turbulent air
the intuitions of what is going on
beating their wings around you
troubling your faces & your hair

& yet the goods you get
are no mere trinkets
they are the very tinsel of the power
which shot the pigeons, bought & owns the island
the looters’ surety
& this accounts, I think
for your odd, persistent air of young barbarians
of the devastated elect
flattened into a swagger
hardened each day into a noise
wearing your toy-store armor, all glint & holes
through which your peers, with eyes half-closed
probe coarse & wounding weapons

for you I fear
when the waters of the beginning of time
at last run off, wearing deep trenches in your minds
where the layers & layers of all things ever felt
can be run over for a life-time with the flat of the hand
in the dark or in the light
when branches green & reach
probing the sky like fingers eager
for the gentle blessing, the touch of landing feet
these buds will wither working the air in vain
grow old & brittle, break off at last of their own weight
never having known wild landing
nor understanding that long ago
in the time of life-giving waters
wings beating into fusillades
fell all from the sky extinct

       © Annik LaFarge 2010 - 2024 | contact | Chasing Chopin: The Companion Music Site