Featured Poem 1/13 – “The Minneapolis Poem”
The Minneapolis Poem by James Wright
to John Logan1I wonder how many old men last winterHungry and frightened by namelessness prowledThe Mississippi shoreLashed blind by the wind, dreamingOf suicide in the river.The police remove their cadavers by daybreakAnd turn them in somewhere.Where?How does the city keep lists of its fathersWho have no names?By Nicollet Island I gaze down at the dark waterSo beautifully slow.And I wish my brothers good luckAnd a warm grave.
2The Chippewa young menStab one another shriekingJesus Christ.Split-lipped homosexuals limp in terror of assault.High school backfields search under benchesNear the Post Office. Their faces are the richRaw bacon without eyes.The Walker Art Center crowd stareAt the Guthrie Theater.
3Tall Negro girls from ChicagoListen to light songs.They know when the supposed patronIs a plainclothesman.A cop’s palmIs a roach dangling down the scorched fangsOf a light bulb.The soul of a cop’s eyesIs an eternity of Sunday daybreak in the suburbsOf Juárez, Mexico.
4The legless beggars are gone, carried awayBy white birds.The Artificial Limbs Exchange is guttedAnd sown with lime.The whalebone crutches and hand-me-down trussesHuddle together dreaming in a desolationOf dry groins.I think of poor men astonished to wakenExposed in broad daylight by the bladeOf a strange plough.
5All over the walls of comb cellsAutomobiles perfumed and blinderedConsent with a mutter of high good humorTo take their two naps a day.Without sound windows glide backInto dusk.The sockets of a thousand blind bee graves tier upon tierTower not quite toppling.There are men in this city who labor dawn after dawnTo sell me my death.
6But I could not bearTo allow my poor brother my body to dieIn Minneapolis.The old man Walt Whitman our countrymanIs now in America our countryDead.But he was not buried in MinneapolisAt least.And no more may I bePlease God.
7I want to be lifted upBy some great white bird unknown to the police,And soar for a thousand miles and be carefully hiddenModest and golden as one last corn grain,Stored with the secrets of the wheat and the mysterious livesOf the unnamed poor.