Statement with Rhymes

Plurality is all. I walk among the restaurants,
the theatres, the grocery stores; I ride the cars
and hear of Mrs. Bedford’s teeth and Albuquerque,
strikes unsettled, someone’s simply marvelous date,
news of the German Jews, the baseball scores,
storetalk and whoretalk, talk of wars. I turn
the pages of a thousand books to read
the names of Buddha, Malthus, Walker Evans, Stendhal, André Gide,
Ouspenski; note the terms: obscurantism,
factorize, fagaceous, endocarp; descend
the nervous stairs to hear the broken ends
of songs that float through city air.
In Osnabrück and Ogden, on the Passamaquoddy Bay,
in Ahmednagar, Waco (Neb.), in Santa Fé,
propelled by zeros, zinc, and zephyrs, always I’m pursued
by thoughts of what I am, authority, remembrance, food,
the letter on the mezzanine, the unemployed, dogs’ lonely
   faces, pianos and decay.

Plurality is all. I sympathize, but cannot grieve
too long for those who wear their dialectics on their sleeves.
The pattern’s one I sometimes rather like; there’s really nothing wrong
with it for some. But I should add: It doesn’t wear for long,
before I push the elevator bell and quickly leave.

Reproduced from The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees, 3rd edition, edited by Donald Justice, by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1975, 1962 by the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright renewed 2003 by the University of Nebraska Press.