Monday, June 09, 2008

Poem of the day

1. Middle-aged, supremely bored

with his wife, hating his work,

unable to sleep, he rises

from bed to pace his mansion

in slippers and robe, wondering

if this is all there ever

will be to becoming Henry Ford,

the man who created

the modern world. The skies

above the great Rouge factory

are black with coke smoke, starless,

the world is starless now, all

because he remade it in

his image, no small reward.

2. Monday comes, as it must, with a pale

moon sinking below the elms.

They told us another dawn was

on the way, possibly held up

by traffic on Grand Boulevard

or by Henry, master of Dearborn,

who loathes sharing the light

with the unenlightened among us.

That was 60 years ago.

The day arrived, a weak sun

but none the less an actual

one, its sooty light bathing

walls, windows, eyelids while

old pal moon drifted off to sleep.

3. As a boy I’d known these fields

rife with wild phlox in April,

where at night the red-tailed fox

came to prey and the horned owl

split the air in a sudden rush

for its kill. I loved that world

with its little woods that held

their darkness and the still ponds,

clear as ice, that held the stars

each night until the dawn broke

into fenced plots of land,

claimed and named, barns and stables,

white houses with eyes shut tight

against the intrusion of sight.

4. Hell is here in the forge room

where the giant presses stamp

out body parts and the smell

of burning skin seeps into

our hair and under our nails.

The old man, King Henry, punches in

for the night shift with us,

his beloved coloreds and Yids,

to work until the shattered

windows gray. There is a justice

after all, there’s a bright anthem

for the occasion, something

familiar and blue, with words we

all sing, like “Time on My Hands.”

"Dearborn Suite" - by Philip Levine (as published in The New Yorker, June 9, 2008)

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