George Moore

The Cities

                        for Paul Blackburn (1926-1971)


Writing down the line of a steel bridge

you found the center of the cities

each time the gold fringed with urban decay

celebrating the bustle of days

and settled on a corner a master in thought

with a brown paper bag passed around

rejecting the post-war mania for growth

and all those lads and lasses

still drinking wine from glasses

and bleeding at the mouth

I remember little of my wounds

but do your minibus parked on campus

for the grand festival where no one came

and the marvelous poetry fights at night

when you remained mostly silent

with the secret of your dying like a glow

on all those lives just getting under way

Reading you now makes me almost cured

of my old ignorance and youth

and how the cities grew up around me

without my knowing just another blind boy

in the rush to change and everywhere

people carrying you their eyes bright

in the cities grand festivals of survival


That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea

                        —W.B. Yeats, “A Prayer for My Daughter”


That murderous innocence of the sea

is it dream and all that in a dream can have meaning

and all that has meaning come true

and the truth return us to some innocence

Before the brown shirts took to the streets

and carved up history with a short knife

no one believed in a false liberty

rather filled the cells with living right

but there was blood on the floor

and ideals like idols in old churches

piled against the doors of perception

And that rage for order that poets feared

as the world slipped away

was reborn a maelstrom of the impolitic

communications with the dead

So your daughter must be fifteen now

and drinking and perhaps she sleeps around

the different beds of your house

like a ghost who has attached herself to the living

You complain her poetry is red and black

with frightful hair and microphonic

in its simplicity

but she won’t be saved by Ouija boards

or whirlpools and vortexes

or that man with his trousers rolled

(he has no daughter he desires none)

but perhaps at last by the sea’s strong pull

murderous but free

George Moore’s recent collections are Children’s Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry, 2015) and Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FutureCycle, 2016). His poetry has been published by The Atlantic, Poetry, Valparaiso, Stand, Orbis, and the Colorado Review. He presently lives with his wife, a Canadian poet, on the south shore of Nova Scotia.


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