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“Dream Song 51” by John Berryman (1914 – 1972)
Our wounds to time, from all the other times,
sea-times slow, the times of galaxies
fleeing, the dwarfs’ dead times,
lessen so little that if here in his crude rimes
Henry them mentions, do not hold it, please,
for a putting of man down.
Ol’ Marster, being bound you do your best
versus we coons, spare now a cagey John
a whilom bits that whip:
who’ll tell your fortune, when you have confessed
whose & whose woundings—against the innocent stars
& remorseless seas—
—Are you radioactive, pal? —Pal, radioactive.
—Has you the night sweats & the day sweats, pal?
—Pal, I do.
—Did your gal leave you? —What do you think, pal?
—Is that thing on the front of your head what it seems to be, pal?
—Yes, pal.