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