The Orange Bears
The Orange bears with soft friendly eyes Who played with me when I was ten, Christ, before I'd left home they'd had Their paws smashed in the rolls, their backs Seared by hot slag, their soft trusting Bellies kicked in, their tongues ripped Out, and I went down through the woods To the smelly crick with Whitman In the Haldeman-Julius edition, And I just sat there worrying my thumbnail Into the cover---What did he know about Orange bears with their coats all stunk up with soft coal And the National Guard coming over From Wheeling to stand in front of the millgates With drawn bayonets jeering at the strikers? I remember you would put daisies On the windowsill at night and in The morning they'd be so covered with soot You couldn't tell what they were anymore. A hell of a fat chance my orange bears had!
From The Collected Poems of Kenneth Patchen, published by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Copyright © 1957 Kenneth Patchen. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.