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  • Poem of the Day: Way Out West
    As simple an act
    as opening the eyes. Merely   
    coming into things by degrees.

    Morning: some tear is broken   
    on the wooden stairs
    of my lady's eyes. Profusions   
    of green. The leaves. Their   
    constant prehensions. Like old   
    junkies on Sheridan Square, eyes   
    cold and round. There is a song   
    Nat Cole sings . . . This city   
    & the intricate disorder   
    of the seasons.

    Unable to mention   
    something as abstract as time.

    Even so, (bowing low in thick   
    smoke from cheap incense; all   
    kinds questions filling the mouth,   
    till you suffocate & fall dead   
    to opulent carpet.) Even so,

    shadows will creep over your flesh   
    & hide your disorder, your lies.

    There are unattractive wild ferns   
    outside the window
    where the cats hide. They yowl   
    from there at nights. In heat   
    & bleeding on my tulips.

    Steel bells, like the evil
    unwashed Sphinx, towing in the twilight.   
    Childless old murderers, for centuries   
    with musty eyes.

    I am distressed. Thinking
    of the seasons, how they pass,
    how I pass, my very youth, the
    ripe sweet of my life; drained off . . .

    Like giant rhesus monkeys;   
    picking their skulls,
    with ingenious cruelty
    sucking out the brains.

    No use for beauty
    collapsed, with moldy breath   
    done in. Insidious weight   
    of cankered dreams. Tiresias'   
    weathered cock.

    Walking into the sea, shells   
    caught in the hair. Coarse   
    waves tearing the tongue.

    Closing the eyes. As   
    simple an act. You float

    Amiri Baraka, "Way Out West" from Transbluesency: The Selected Poems of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, 1961-1995 (New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1995). Copyright ? 1995 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

    Source: Transbluesency: The Selected Poems of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones 1961-1995 (1995)

    Amiri Baraka

    More poems by this author



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