I found the bee as it fumbled about the ground
Its leg mangled, its wing torn, its sting
I picked it up, marvelled at its insistence
to continue on, despite the dumb brute
thing that had occurred
I considered, remembered the fatal struggle
the agony on the face of wounded friends
and the same dumb drive to continue
I became angry at the unfair conflict suffered
by will and organism
I became just, I became unreasoned, I became
I observed the bee, there, lying in my palm
I looked and I commanded in a harsh and angry shout –
Then it ceased to struggle, and somehow suddenly
became marvellously whole, and it arose
and it flew away
I stared, I was appalled, I was overwhelmed
with responsibility, and I knew not where to begin.
TIME AND THE CITY
SOME SEVENTEEN SYLLABLE COMMENTS
On the freeway
I follow redglow taillights
to my city of glass
I was not here yesterday
I will not be here tomorrow
Will you please explain this
I hate you
I fear you
I return always
The pain of your people
tears my flesh
There is the hour before dawn
I will not be here yesterday
I was not here tomorrow
'Letter from Kickapoo (pop. 250)'
from the heat here
they want me
for Living without Believing
for Working without Slavery
Playing without Patterns
and Loving without Misery
please don't give me away?
INITIATIONWhat we doing, beingcool?That argument Kitten, onthe freewayI couldn’t keep up ourhabits andWe cruised along sick,seeking magicAnd you said – Hit somechump over his headBut I didn’t dig that soyou offeredTo find some good tricksI got hot, indignant likea square with tearsAnd you felt pity, saying- Don’t cry Daddy, it’s justanother way to burn a sucker
'Things Exactly as They Are'
Things exactly as they are
But it's always so quiet
When the crickets die
the 6 x 6 bounces me down thewashboard roads, I see the sun-eaten walls of
, mygirl-wife & child in mud & straw hut back in Korea & hereI am meeting the SEAL as he sits on his roller-skate cartminus arms & legs but beneath his ass a million $’s worthof heroin – I make my buy walk through the 10,000 cam-era market-place, jeeps for sale, people for sale, I’meven for sale as I find the porch of Cutie’s suckahatchihouse and fix, sitting in the sun on the adobe veranda, thetwo Chinese agents come around to make their buy, 2 youngboys, they’re hooked bad & I charge them too much – we sitthere and fix, I fix again, the so-called Enemy & I, but just3 angry boys lost in the immense absurdity of War and state suddenfriends who have decided that our hatred of Government exceedsour furthest imaginable limits of human calculation Taegu
American poet William Wantling (1933-74) led a life of extremes. Much of his poetry reflects this. Born in Peoria, Illinois (a town which would come to represent the kind of conformism that Wantling detested), he was a soldier in the Korean War, became a heroin addict on his return to civilian life, and spent almost six years in San Quentin prison for forgery and possession of narcotics. It was in prison that Wantling began to write. His early poetry already reflected a need to transcend immediate circumstances as well as to confront them.
'The Awakening', dated December 1962, was first published in a limited edition of 200 by Turret Books in 1967, and as the opening piece for In the Enemy Camp: Selected Poems 1964-74, 108pp, Tangerine Press.
The four-line poem, 'Things Exactly as They Are,' takes its title from Wallace Stevens' long poem 'The Man with the Blue Guitar' (which itself was inspired by a Picasso painting).