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Poem by Lola Ridge


  A late snow beats
  With cold white fists upon the tenements--
  Hurriedly drawing blinds and shutters,
  Like tall old slatterns
  Pulling aprons about their heads.

  Lights slanting out of Mott Street
  Gibber out,
  Or dribble through bar-room slits,
  Anonymous shapes
  Conniving behind shuttered panes
  Caper and disappear...
  Where the Bowery
  Is throbbing like a fistula
  Back of her ice-scabbed fronts.

  Livid faces
  Glimmer in furtive doorways,
  Or spill out of the black pockets of alleys,
  Smears of faces like muddied beads,
  Making a ghastly rosary
  The night mumbles over
  And the snow with its devilish and silken whisper...
  Patrolling arcs
  Blowing shrill blasts over the Bread Line
  Stalk them as they pass,
  Silent as though accouched of the darkness,
  And the wind noses among them,
       Like a skunk
  That roots about the heart...

  And the Elevated slams upon the silence
  Like a ponderous door.
  Then all is still again,
  Save for the wind fumbling over
  The emptily swaying faces--
  The wind rummaging
  Like an old Jew...

  Faces in glimmering rows...
  (No sign of the abject life--
  Not even a blasphemy...)
  But the spindle legs keep time
  To a limping rhythm,
  And the shadows twitch upon the snow
  As though death played
  With some ungainly dolls.

Lola Ridge

Lola Ridge's other poems:
  1. Scandal
  2. Dispossed
  3. North Wind
  4. Broadway
  5. Manhattan

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