sexta-feira, maio 02, 2014

The Bad Old Days

The summer of nineteen eighteen 
I read The Jungle and The
Research Magnificent. That fall 
My father died and my aunt 
Took me to Chicago to live. 
The first thing I did was to take 
A streetcar to the stockyards. 
In the winter afternoon, 
Gritty and fetid, I walked
Through the filthy snow, through the 
Squalid streets, looking shyly 
Into the people’s faces,
Those who were home in the daytime. 
Debauched and exhausted faces, 
Starved and looted brains, faces 
Like the faces in the senile 
And insane wards of charity 
Hospitals. Predatory
Faces of little children.
Then as the soiled twilight darkened, 
Under the green gas lamps, and the 
Sputtering purple arc lamps, 
The faces of the men coming
Home from work, some still alive with 
The last pulse of hope or courage, 
Some sly and bitter, some smart and 
Silly, most of them already 
Broken and empty, no life, 
Only blinding tiredness, worse 
Than any tired animal. 
The sour smells of a thousand 
Suppers of fried potatoes and 
Fried cabbage bled into the street. 
I was giddy and sick, and out 
Of my misery I felt rising 
A terrible anger and out
Of the anger, an absolute vow. 
Today the evil is clean
And prosperous, but it is 
Everywhere, you don’t have to 
Take a streetcar to find it,
And it is the same evil.
And the misery, and the
Anger, and the vow are the same.

- Kenneth Rexroth

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