“This city & the intricate disorder of the seasons…”

Way Out West

BY AMIRI BARAKA

As simple an act 
as opening the eyes. Merely   
coming into things by degrees. 


Morning: some tear is broken   
on the wooden stairs 
of my lady’s eyes. Profusions   
of green. The leaves. Their   
constant prehensions. Like old   
junkies on Sheridan Square, eyes   
cold and round. There is a song   
Nat Cole sings . . . This city   
& the intricate disorder   
of the seasons. 


Unable to mention   
something as abstract as time. 


Even so, (bowing low in thick   
smoke from cheap incense; all   
kinds questions filling the mouth,   
till you suffocate & fall dead   
to opulent carpet.) Even so, 


shadows will creep over your flesh   
& hide your disorder, your lies. 


There are unattractive wild ferns   
outside the window 
where the cats hide. They yowl   
from there at nights. In heat   
& bleeding on my tulips. 


Steel bells, like the evil 
unwashed Sphinx, towing in the twilight.   
Childless old murderers, for centuries   
with musty eyes. 


I am distressed. Thinking 
of the seasons, how they pass, 
how I pass, my very youth, the 
ripe sweet of my life; drained off . . . 


Like giant rhesus monkeys;   
picking their skulls, 
with ingenious cruelty 
sucking out the brains. 


No use for beauty 
collapsed, with moldy breath   
done in. Insidious weight   
of cankered dreams. Tiresias’   
weathered cock. 


Walking into the sea, shells   
caught in the hair. Coarse   
waves tearing the tongue. 


Closing the eyes. As   
simple an act. You float