I simply have to finish Arrowsmith—it’s too hard to find poems from 1926, especially when I forget to go hunting while at the U.W. But even if I’d remembered, I’ve basically searched out the only volumes from 1926 on their shelves. So I offer what I hope is my last poem for 1926: a poem about the year, entitled “1926” in fact, by an American poet/musician named Weldon Kees who, while still a young man (only 40) and relatively successful as an artist, disappeared one night. He either jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge to his death, or fled to Mexico and was never heard from again. Interesting fellow. So, without further ado, his poem, “1926”:
The porchlight coming on again,
Early November, the dead leaves
Raked in piles, the wicker swing
Creaking. Across the lots
A phonograph is playing Ja-Da.
An orange moon. I see the lives
Of neighbors, mapped and marred
Like all the wars ahead, and R.
Insane, B. with his throat cut,
Fifteen years from now, in Omaha.
I did not know them then.
My airedale scratches at the door.
And I am back from seeing Milton Sills
And Doris Kenyon. Twelve years old.
The porchlight coming on again.