Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ROUND MIDNIGHT, by CLARENCE MAJOR

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ROUND MIDNIGHT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: You know my [trouble] story

You know my story.
They want to make me liable
to punishment for this picture.

So my spirit is closed.
I'm a delicate engraving
with semitones, curled
at the edges,
nearly worthless,
in mysterious trouble.

I walk the beach
at Scheveningen.
Drink myself blind in The Hague.
Piss in the bushes at Etten.

I redate all my efforts.
Reconsider a cluster
of old houses nearby,
but not the church behind it.
You know why.

Midnight is round.
Asleep, we go around in it.
So what if I fail
at the total -- the whole?

Judith Te Parari
couldn't care less.
She swings low
in her sweetness
around midnight as
the diggers dig
the fields stacking mud
against gold panels.

When I come to trial
you will hear
in my defense, weavers
and rug makers, potters,
old men leaning on sticks --
people I trust -- tree cutters,
tree growers, folks born
in the month of March.

In Harlem or Stuttgart
you can make anything work --
jazz with hard light
against the Rhine;
even a tiny red boat
tossed this and that way
along the tired face
of night's season.

You know the story.
I am held captive by winter light
at Nuenen next to an ox,
hooked to a cart, hopeless
in its sincere effort
to go on and on.

Judith holds the end
of the winter thread,
pushes it through the needle,
then through my lip
and through midnight and
sews me and it together.

My spirit rises. I drink
nectar from her Nefertiti
moon. It's midnight, exactly
and I hear -- what piano keys? --
not from Rick's. It's the sounds

of water at the Gennep
Mill, turning, and
I am a monk, waiting,
holding a gift --
a token of reprieve
placed in my hand
by my defenders
who also wait now on
benches harder than mine.

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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