the great figure/ pastoral












Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
firetruck
moving tense
unheeded
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.








The little sparrows 
hop ingenuously 
about the pavement 
quarreling 
with sharp voices 
over those things 
that interest them. 
But we who are wiser 
shut ourselves in 
on either hand 
and no one knows 
whether we think good 
or evil. 

                   Meanwhile, 
the old man who goes about 
gathering dog-lime 
walks in the gutter 
without looking up 
and his tread 
is more majestic than 
that of the Episcopal minister 
approaching the pulpit 
of a Sunday. 
                   These things 
astonish me beyond words. 








When I was younger
it was plain to me
I must make something of myself.
Older now
I walk back streets
admiring the houses
of the very poor:
roof out of line with sides
the yards cluttered
with old chicken wire, ashes,
furniture gone wrong;
the fences and outhouses
built of barrel staves
and parts of boxes, all,
if I am fortunate,
smeared a bluish green
that properly weathered
pleases me best of all colors.
No one
will believe this
of vast import to the nation.





William Carlos Williams
who was Robert Smithson's doctor.