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“Dream Song 92” by John Berryman (1914 – 1972)
Something black somewhere in the vistas of his heart.
Tulips from Tates teazed Henry in the mood
to be a tulip and desire no more
but water, but light, but air.
Yet his nerves rattled blackly, unsubdued,
& suffocation called, dream-whiskey’d pour
sirening. Rosy there
too fly my Phil & Ellen roses, pal.
Flesh-coloured men & women come & punt
under my windows. I rave
or grunt against it, from a flowerless land.
For timeless hours wind most, or not at all. I wind
my clock before I shave.
Soon it will fall dark. Soon you’ll see stars
you fevered after, child, man, & did nothing,—
compass live to the pencil-torch!
As still as his cadaver, Henry mars
this surface of an earth or other, feet south
eyes bleared west, waking to march.