Maxwell Bodenheim

1892 - 1954 / Mississippi / United States

Foundry Workers

Brown faces twisted back
Into an ecstasy of tight resistance;
Eyes that are huge sweat drops
Unheeded by the struggle underneath them-
Throughout the night you stagger under walls
Where life is squeezed to squealing bitterness.
Beneath your heaving flash of limbs
Your thoughts are smashed to a dejected trance
And you are swept, like empty mites,
Into a glistening frenzy of motion ...
Yet, on a Sunday afternoon
I have seen you straightening your backs with slow smiles;
Walking through the streets
And patiently groping for lost outlines.
Your lips were placid bruises
Almost fearing to relax,
And often out upon some green
Your legs swung themselves into long lost shapes.

Perhaps upon your death-beds
You will lift your hands, with a wraith of grace,
Showing life a last, weak curve
Of the rhythm he could not kill.
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