problems of a journalist

“I want to get away somewhere and re-read Proust,”
Said an editor of Fortune to a man on Time.
But the fire roared and died, the phoenix quacked like a goose,
And all roads to the country fray like shawls
Outside the dusk of suburbs. Pacing the halls
Where mile-high windows frame a dream with witnesses,
You taste, fantast and epicure, the names of towns along the coast,
Black roadsters throbbing on the highways blue with rain
Toward one lamp, burning on those sentences.

“I want to get away someplace and re-read Proust,”
Said an editor of Newsweek to a man on Look.
Dachaus with telephones, Siberias with bonuses.
One reads, as winter settles on the town,
The evening paper, in an Irving Place café.

(Weldon Kees, from Poems 1947–1954.)

the beach in august

The day the fat woman
In the bright blue bathing suit
Walked into the water and died,
I thought about the human
Condition. Pieces of old fruit
Came in and were left by the tide.

What I thought about the human
Condition was this: old fruit
Comes in and is left, and dries
In the sun. Another fat woman
In a dull green bathing suit
Dives into the water and dies.
The pulmotors glisten. It is noon.

We dry and die in the sun
While the seascape arranges old fruit,
Coming in with the tide, glistening
At noon. A woman, moderately stout,
In a nondescript bathing suit,
Swims to a pier. A tall woman
Steps toward the sea. One thinks about the human
Condition. The tide goes in and goes out.

(Weldon Kees, from Poems 1947–1954.)