AMERICA - Don Marquis Poems


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The Tropic of Capricorn someone had
left on the seat beside me, somewhere between
Utica and Albany;

Miller going on about twats,
about the pasting of billboards.

In and out of bus stops, nausea in my head,
the toilet smelling at the back;
the bus jolting the freeways; nightlights
rained on the window

the night I honeymooned with America. She took
me around like a sweetheart showing off her hometown.
We came upon places where Miller had had her
before me. We stepped off at depots and she was friendly
with old drunks, with sailors.

When we passed apple trees gathering frost
her eyes softened; she seemed almost childlike.
And later, tall mills, saddening her landscape, the way
a woman thinks of years with a man she couldn't love.

When we passed train yards, she reminisced about
Miller in New York, nights they made love by the roar
of trains, sparks flying at the folds of her summer dress.

The night I saw her for the first time, I saw she
was a good whore -- nothing to fall in love with --
fond of the young boys who'd grown with her; tall sons
of a sort who'd go on to elegize her, claim their
corruption by her, though
no man goes on to respectable wives
after her. She was nothing to sing about, the night
she lifted her dress for me.
But quietly           all over the world

her men return to their first nights with her.

Quietly, like small boys stealing apples under
furious stars,
they remember           with affection

the tough romance their hands build nothing without.