A poem by Lola Ridge

Crass rays streaming from the vestibules;
Cafes glittering like jeweled teeth;
High-flung signs
Blinking yellow phosphorescent eyes;
Girls in black
Circling monotonously
About the orange lights...

Nothing to guess at...
Save the darkness above
Crouching like a great cat.

In the dim-lit square,
Where dishevelled trees
Tustle with the wind - the wind like a scythe
Mowing their last leaves -
Arcs shimmering through a greenish haze -
Pale oval arcs
Like ailing virgins,
Each out of a halo circumscribed,
Pallidly staring...

Figures drift upon the benches
With no more rustle than a dropped leaf settling -
Slovenly figures like untied parcels,
And papers wrapped about their knees
Huddled one to the other,
Cringing to the wind -
The sided wind,
Leaving no breach untried...

So many and all so still...
The fountain slobbering its stone basin
Is louder than They -
Flotsam of the five oceans
Here on this raft of the world.

This old man's head
Has found a woman's shoulder.
The wind juggles with her shawl
That flaps about them like a sail,
And splashes her red faded hair
Over the salt stubble of his chin.
A light foam is on his lips,
As though dreams surged in him
Breaking and ebbing away...
And the bare boughs shuffle above him
And the twigs rattle like dice...

She - diffused like a broken beetle -
Sprawls without grace,
Her face gray as asphalt,
Her jaws sagging as on loosened hinges...
Shadows ply about her mouth -
Nimble shadows out of the jigging tree,
That dances above her its dance of dry bones.


A uniformed front,
A glance like a blow,
The swing of an arm,
Verved, vigorous;
Boot-heels clanking
In metallic rhythm;
The blows of a baton,
Quick, staccato...

- There is a rustling along the benches
As of dried leaves raked over...
And the old man lifts a shaking palsied hand,
Tucking the displaced paper about his knees.

And a frost under foot,
Acid, corroding,
Eating through worn bootsoles.

Drab forms blur into greenish vapor.
Through boughs like cross-bones,
Pale arcs flare and shiver
Like lilies in a wind.

High over Broadway
A far-flung sign
Glitters in indigo darkness
And spurts again rhythmically,
Spraying great drops
Red as a hemorrhage.

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