Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PLUSH, by HOWARD BUCK



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PLUSH, by            
First Line: How placidly the window goddesses
Last Line: Of silks and furs and rugs and plush.
Subject(s): Human Behavior; Conduct Of Life; Human Nature


How placidly the window goddesses
Lean toward us in their perfect bodices --
Yearn outward o'er the street's depravity
As if they'd lost their sense of gravity!
The China lips smile so divinely --
The little finger poised so finely:
"Some tea, my dear?" in solemn hush
Of silks and furs and rugs and plush.

We ramp and stamp and kick and shove,
We woo and wed and bed and love,
We make a fog and think we dream,
And never guess the thing we seem.
In winter, summer, spring and fall,
The jolly lamp-posts see it all:
The dumpling dames, the dapper friskers,
The grandmammas with woggly whiskers
The "shine-'em-ups," the gob, the wop,
The wonders of the traffic cop:
The shoppers, swappers, doughty doers --
From gouging folk to digging sewers;
The girl who "never knowed what fear meant,"
Who shakes her hip and snaps her Spearmint;
The high School gang's embattled quorum
Who arm-in-arm sweep all before 'em,
Who bob their hair because its quicker,
And wear their fellow's yellow slicker,
Who shriek and shrill and push and splutter,
And make poor Grandpa take the gutter!
Ah, God! how grand to be alive,
Like busy bees out of a hive!
Yet still the placid window godesses
Lean toward us in their perfect bodices!
The China lips smile on divinely,
The little finger poised so finely --
"Some tea, my dear?" in solemn hush
Of silks and furs and rugs and plush.

Once for a moment flushed and rare
A lad and maiden loiter there;
In turn their lips move, but no word
Above the Babel can be heard.
Yet as they mutely murmuring stand,
And hand in secret touches hand,
Heart into heart and soul is flowing
With all life's wisdom worth the knowing.
But the blind armies moil and mutter,
And drown the simple words they utter.
Yet still the placid window goddesses
Lean o'er them in their perfect bodices.
The China lips smile on divinely --
The little finger poised so finely --
"Some tea, my dears?" in solemn hush
Of silks and furs and rugs and plush.

Then poor bowed beggars come to mind
Who get their bread by being blind:
The face where eighty years are written,
In squirming little letters bitten;
The lad's face too, a clean fair paper,
Who yet shall cut his little caper --
Yea, even now, in those blue eyes
And cheeks like softest satin, lies
That four-score years, a single wink,
Traced in Time's sympathetic ink,
Who hides all now but to reveal
And scourge and sere -- then once more heal.
There is the friend who yet could win you,
Once all in all confided in you --
Sworn brothers in the good old days:
And now you go your several ways
With "Hello, Harry," "Hello, Jake,"
"How's everything?" -- a friendly shake.
There stands a man without his dinner,
Hugging his coat about him thinner.
And there's a thing were better dead,
With lips and cheeks and tie so red:
That He-man swore, By Gawd, he lubbed her!
Then in a backstairs bedroom clubbed her.
The sidewalks quake, the windows rattle
Beneath the banging of the battle.
Yet still the placid window goddesses
Lean o'er them in their perfect bodices.
And if a shudder stirs some lace,
There's not a tremor in the face;
The China lips smile on divinely,
The little finger poised so finely --
"Some tea, my dear?" in solemn hush
Of silks and furs and rugs and plush.

At six o'clock the crowd is thickest,
At six o'clock the step is quickest.
Yet though so many heads are there,
Their thoughts inside are all elsewhere;
And soon, as if but spectres hollow,
Their restless bodies up and follow
Out to the places they are keeping
For eating, shaving, dressing, sleeping.
At last the houses dim their light,
Nod like their owners in the night;
And windows look, beneath the coping,
Like sleepers with their mouths wide open.

So in the central busy streets
Scarcely a living soul one meets.
When folks are safely tucked in bed
Their monster for a time lies dead;
Then shadows waver down the street
Instead of heads and hands and feet;
Worn car-tracks gleam, and upper wires
Are touched and caught with flashing fires;
The arc-lights gulp and catch and sputter;
Stray bits of paper rasp and flutter;
The stores lie dark and deep and chill,
With none to pause and peer. But still
The China lips smile on divinely,
The little finger poised so finely --
"Some tea, my dear?" in midnight hush
Of silks and furs and rugs and plush.





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