Maxwell Bodenheim

1892 - 1954 / Mississippi / United States

Summer Evening: New York Subway-Station

Perspiring violence derides
The pathetic collapse of dirt.
An effervescence of noises
Depends upon cement for its madness.
Electric light is taut and dull,
Like a nauseated suspense.
This kind of heat is the recollection
Of an orgy in a swamp.
Soiled caskets joined together
Slide to rasping stand-stills.
People savagely tamper
With each other's bodies,
Scampering in and out of doorways.
Weighted with apathetic bales of people
The soiled caskets rattle on.
The scene consists of mosaics
Jerkily pieced together and blown apart.
A symbol of billowing torment,
This sturdy girl leans against an iron girder.
Weariness has loosened her face
With its shining cruelty.
Round and poverty-stricken
Her face renounces life.
Her white cotton waist is a wet skin on her breast:
Her black hat, crisp and delicate,
Does not understand her head.
An old man stoops beside her,
Sweat and wrinkles errupting
Upon the blunt remnants of his face.
A little black pot of a hat
Corrupts his grey-haired head.

Two figures on a subway-platform,
Pieced together by an old complaint.
127 Total read