Friday Poem

William Carlos Williams

Paterson falls

Sunday in the Park
1. (a fragment)


look down (from a ledge) into this grassy
(somewhat removed from the traffic)
above whose brows
a moon! Where she lies sweating at his side:

She stirs, distraught,
against him—wounded (drunk), moves
against him (a lump) desiring,
against him, bored .

flagrantly bored and sleeping, a
beer bottle still grasped spear-like
in his hand .

while the small, sleepless boys, who
have climbed the columnar rocks
overhanging the pair (where they lie
overt upon the grass, besieged—

careless in their narrow cell under
the crowd’s feet) stare down,
from history!
at them, puzzled and in the sexless
light (of childhood) bored equally,
go charging off .

There where
the movement throbs openly
and you can hear the Evangelist shouting!

—moving nearer
she—leans as a goat—leans
her lean belly to the man’s backside
toying with the clips of his
suspenders .

—to which he adds his useless voice:
until there moves in his sleep
a music that is whole, unequivocal (in
his sleep, sweating in his sleep—laboring
against sleep, agasp!)
—and does not waken.

Sees, alive (alseep)
—the fall’s roar entering
his sleep (to be fullfilled)
in his sleep—scattered over the mountain
severally .

—by which he woos her, severally.

And the Amnesic crowd (the scattered),
called about strains
to catch the movement of one voice .

Pleasure! Pleasure!

half dismayed, the afternoon of complex
voices its own—

and is relieved

A cop is directing traffic
across the main road up
a little wooded slope toward
the conveniences:

oaks, choke cherry,
dogwoods, white and green, ironwood :
humped roots matted into the shallow soil
—mostly gone: rock out-croppings
polished by the feet of the picnickers:
sweetbarked sassafras .

leaning from the rancid grease:

—to be deciphered (a horn, a trumpet!)
an elucidation by multiplicity,
a corrosion, a parasitic curd, a clarion
for belief, to be good dogs :


from Paterson, by William Carlos Williams
New Directs Books, 1946