[Marxism] Fwd: In Praise of Kenneth Patchen - The Awl

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 16 06:45:18 MDT 2017


Patchen was no starry-eyed, ivory-tower dweeb. He was born in 1911 in 
blue-collar northeastern Ohio, the son of a mill worker and a devoutly 
Catholic housewife mom, and he remained a champion of workers, the 
downtrodden and the marginalized all his life. He was a vocal pacifist 
who knew who his enemies were—the war mongers, the money-mad, the 
lethally complacent—and he fought them the only way he knew how.

But Patchen also loved the broken world — the balm of nature and the 
crazy energy of cities — and he loved his wife, Miriam (a Massachusetts 
native and self-declared “youngest card-carrying member of the American 
Communist Party”; Patchen wrote virtually all of his poems for and about 
her), and that love sustained him through decades of financial troubles, 
career struggles and, in his last years, it sustained him through 
unremitting physical suffering.

full: https://www.theawl.com/2017/08/in-praise-of-kenneth-patchen/

The Hangman's Great Hands
by Kenneth Patchen

And all that is this day. . .
The boy with cap slung over what had been a face. ..

Somehow the cop will sleep tonight, will make love to his
wife...
Anger won't help. I was born angry. Angry that my father was
being burnt alive in the mills; Angry that none of us knew
anything but filth, and poverty. Angry because I was that very
one somebody was supposed To be fighting for
Turn him over; take a good look at his face...
Somebody is going to see that face for a long time.
I wash his hands that in the brightness they will shine.
We have a parent called the earth.
To be these buds and trees; this tameless bird Within the
ground; this season's act upon the fields of Man.
To be equal to the littlest thing alive,
While all the swarming stars move silent through The merest
flower
. .. but the fog of guns.
The face with all the draining future left blank. . . Those smug
saints, whether of church or Stalin, Can get off the back of
my people, and stay off. Somebody is supposed to be fighting
for somebody. . . And Lenin is terribly silent, terribly silent
and dead.



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