The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday

The United States
By C.K. Williams

The rusting, decomposing hulk of the United States
is moored across Columbus Boulevard from Ikea,
rearing weirdly over the old municipal pier
on the mostly derelict docks in Philadelphia.

I'd forgotten how immense it is: I can't imagine
which of the hundreds of portholes looked in
on the four-man cabin five flights down
I shared that first time I ran away to France.

We were told we were the fastest thing afloat,
and we surely were; even from the tiny deck
where passengers from tourist were allowed
our wake boiled ever vaster out behind.

That such a monster could be lifted by mere waves
and in the storm that hit us halfway across
tossed left and right until we vomited
seemed a violation of some natural law.

At Le Havre we were out of scale with everything;
when a swarm of tiny tugs nudged like piglets
at the teat the towering mass of us in place,
all the continent of Europe looked small.

Now, behind its ravelling chain-link fence,
the ship's a somnolent carcass, cables lashed
like lilliputian leashes to its prow, its pocking,
once pure paint discoloring to blood.

Upstream, the shells of long-abandoned factories
crouch for miles beneath the interstate;
the other way the bridge named after Whitman
hums with traffic toward the suburbs past his grave;

and "America's mighty flagship" waits here,
to be auctioned, I suppose, stripped of anything
it might still have of worth, and towed away
and torched to pieces on a beach in Bangladesh.


I'm too sleepy again for a proper entry -- I have no idea how single parents manage, I can't keep my eyes open and it's only been two days and I haven't done more than a couple of hours' job-type work on either of those days. Tuesday I had a dentist appointment at lunchtime that curtailed my activities anyway; no cavities, but the vibrating polishing brush always gives me a headache. Picked Daniel and his best friend up from the bus stop because the cheesecakes we ordered from school to support the choir had arrived, drove Adam to Hebrew school, did some cleaning up around the house, went out to dinner at Hamburger Hamlet with the kids and my father who is also home alone for a few days while my mother is in New York. Watched Mick Moloney on Absolutely Irish on PBS, then the very end of the Mount Saint Mary's game (they're in the NCAA tournament probably long enough to lose to North Carolina, and am now trying to keep my eyes open for the Maryland men's NIT match-up against Minnesota.

The view of McKeldin Mall from the administration buildings. I've read that this is the second largest central lawn of any U.S. university.

Hornbake Library, the undergraduate research library. The first class I ever taught was in a classroom on the first floor in the lower right of this photo.

The Philip Merrill College of Journalism, whose alumni include Jon Franklin of The Evening Sun and Connie Chung of CBS and CNN.

LeFrak Hall has my children's favorite name of any building on campus. It houses the geography department.

This is the back of one of the campus buildings -- I liked the way the old-fashioned windows were reflected in the glass of the newer addition.

Marie Mount Hall, the linguistics department, is where Professor Emily Appleton's office should have been located in National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

And here is Patterson Hall, home of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, with the Pi sculpture in front.

I'm sure it's already been linked by half my friends list, but for my own reference, here's Obama on race and religion in America and in his own life. I'm still not sure he's the best person for the job he's seeking, but I can't remember the last time a public figure rose to the occasion so well when a big speech was needed. On an unrelated note, I'm still mirrored at Blogger and InsaneJournal if anyone is looking for me elsewhere, but since I have a permanent account at LiveJournal where I store my photos, I think it's a safe bet that one way or another I'm here for the duration, though I may stop posting about certain topics and I resent any attempt to pretend that other topics are not represented here. And RIP, Arthur C. Clarke. "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

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