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Street Music.

 I judge matters
               differently now:
                               Captain David McDowell,
cultivated publisher
               and editor,
                               told me in 1949
he fought the Nazis
               at Monte Cassino.
                               An infantryman, halfway up
the bloody mountain,
               almost shot in half,
                               screamed in pain all night.
At dawn David ordered
               a corporal to shoot the soldier,
                               whoever he was.
When the corporal refused the order,
               David shot
                               and killed the corporal.
He was one of thousands
               slaughtered on the mountain.
                               I did not whisper or shout
when I was told the story,
               "Murderer! Murderer!"
                               I thought, "It happens,
war is war."
               David spoke French and Italian
                               without his Southern accent.
He telephoned me to go to
               William Carlos Williams' funeral
                               at a Rutherford church.
In attendance Bill's sons,
               grandchildren, beautiful
                               old ladies, ex-girlfriends
and Fanny.
               I looked for asphodels
                               green among the flowers.
I did not recognize
               a single attending poet.
                               I cannot count all
the babies
               Bill pulled into America,
                               among them American poets
he freed from idols--
               a few English bastards.
                               W.C. Williams resolved the conflict
between form and freedom in verse,
               stepped lines.
When I drive near Rutherford,
               where Bill was born,
                               along the Passaic River,
still mourning
               for what's past
                               I feel I'm driving a double-deck bus
along the Tiber in Rome.
               I'm dreaming, void of guile,
                               we're near the Isola Tiberina
the bus loaded with poets
               some cold sober
                               some drunk some high.
I hear dozens of languages
               and dialects--
                               cobbled, tar,
and dirt music
               wherever a shoed, sandaled,
                               or naked foot has trod.
Montale beside me,
               I hear Rimbaud say,
                               "Je suis un autre."
Denise Levertov says,
               "We're all here
                               on this queen of long roads
because of Bill's love of love,
               his secret, American stuff
                               for all of us."
We're on the A-Line
               to Michelangelo.
                               Bill pushes his way
from the back of the bus,
               tells me, "Stop!"
                               He steps down,
disappears in the night
               to help a soldier
                               screaming in pain.
Each of us has his or her reason
               to know who's screaming.
                               The poets head back home,
to their lives and graves
               the most serious appear
                               the personification of frivolity,
all of them write poetry
               that would be impoverished
                              without nonsense.


Stanley Moss is the author of The Wrong Angel (1966), The Skull of Adam (1979), The Intelligence of Clouds (1989) , Asleep in the Garden (1997) , A History of Color (2003) , Songs of Imperfection (2005) , New and Selected Poems (2006) , Rejoicing (2009) , God Breaketh Not All Men's Hearts Alike (2011), No Tear is Commonplace (2013) and It's About Time (2015).
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Title Annotation:TWO POEMS
Author:Moss, Stanley (American writer)
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Jan 1, 2019
Words:514
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