The Ballad of the Children of the Czar

SHORT INTRO
This old thing is my favourite poem by Delmore Schwartz, and in my top 100 favourite poems. This one is copied from the Poetry Foundation site, citation at the bottom.There may be many good pictures of Schwartz but I haven’t found them. These are from https://pcolman.wordpress.com/tag/lou-reed/. A blog by Padraig Colman.Lou Reed took a course from Schwartz in the 1960s and considered they were both poets from Brooklyn. I admire them.

The Ballad of the Children of the Czar

 
1
The children of the Czarhttps://pcolman.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/later.jpg?resize=152%2C183
Played with a bouncing ball.
 
In the May morning, in the Czar’s garden,  
Tossing it back and forth.
 
It fell among the flowerbeds   
Or fled to the north gate.
 
A daylight moon hung up
In the Western sky, bald white.
 
Like Papa’s face, said Sister,   
Hurling the white ball forth.
 
 
       2
 
While I ate a baked potato   
Six thousand miles apart,
 
In Brooklyn, in 1916,   
Aged two, irrational.
 
When Franklin D. Roosevelt   
Was an Arrow Collar ad.
 
O Nicholas! Alas! Alas!
My grandfather coughed in your army,
 
Hid in a wine-stinking barrel,   
For three days in Bucharest
 
Then left for America
To become a king himself.
 
 
       3
 
I am my father’s father,
You are your children’s guilt.https://pcolman.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/atlas.jpg?resize=331%2C548
 
In history’s pity and terror   
The child is Aeneas again;
 
Troy is in the nursery,
The rocking horse is on fire.
 
Child labor! The child must carry   
His fathers on his back.
 
But seeing that so much is past   
And that history has no ruth
 
For the individual,
Who drinks tea, who catches cold,
 
Let anger be general:
I hate an abstract thing.
 
 
       4
 
Brother and sister bounced   
The bounding, unbroken ball,
 
The shattering sun fell down   
Like swords upon their play,
 
Moving eastward among the stars   
Toward February and October.
 
But the Maywind brushed their cheeks   
Like a mother watching sleep,
 
And if for a moment they fight   
Over the bouncing ball
 
And sister pinches brother   
And brother kicks her shins,
 
Well! The heart of man is known:   
It is a cactus bloom.
 
 
       5
 
The ground on which the ball bounces   
Is another bouncing ball.
 
The wheeling, whirling world   
Makes no will glad.
 
Spinning in its spotlight darkness,   
It is too big for their hands.
 
A pitiless, purposeless Thing,   
Arbitrary and unspent,
 
Made for no play, for no children,   
But chasing only itself.
 
The innocent are overtaken,   
They are not innocent.
 
They are their father’s fathers,
The past is inevitable.
 
 
       6
 
Now, in another October   
Of this tragic star,
 
I see my second year,   
I eat my baked potato.
 
It is my buttered world,
But, poked by my unlearned hand,
 
It falls from the highchair down   
And I begin to howl.
 
And I see the ball roll under   
The iron gate which is locked.
 
Sister is screaming, brother is howling,   
The ball has evaded their will.
 
Even a bouncing ball   
Is uncontrollable,
 
And is under the garden wall.   
I am overtaken by terror
 
Thinking of my father’s fathers,   
And of my own will.
 
Delmore Schwartz, “The Ballad of the Children of the Czar” from Selected Poems (1938-1958): Summer Knowledge. Copyright © 1967 by Delmore Schwartz. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation, www.wwnorton.com/nd/welcome.htm.
Source: Selected Poems (1938-1958): Summer Knowledge (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1967)

REPRISE: BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LETTER B

Some Assembly Required

MY LIFE IN PIECES is a videocast autobiography in ten minute instalments, now going up as a separate page on my website and Patreon site. Pieces is a rolling story picking up fragments of my life, investigating parts of my body and pieces of my mind to prompt writing in multiple forms. I’ve had the company of Murray Toews (Graphics, animation), Kevin and Caden Nikkel (live film, recording and editing) to provide video accompanying my words for the first three episodes. The first episode “Beat the Clock,” is available through Patreon, the second Some Assembly Required is freely available, and will move to Patreon when episode three “Pain Room” is posted in November which will be free until December. The first season, brought to you by the letters a, b, and c from the “Abject Alphabet” is my “Season One.” Ha, I know, who do I think I am? Stay tuned for episode three for the answer.

THE PAIN DIALOGUES

THE PAIN DIALOGUES

1
WTF

-Fuck off.
-No, you
Fuck off.
-Oh yeah?
Well fuck you!
-Fuck yourself!
-Asshole. Just
You wait!
I’ll fuck you
Till you’re bruised
And blue, fuck.
-Fuck yourself, you
don’t have one original line!
-Just yours, fuck your miserable bones, Jimmy,
I’ll fuck you up, like there’s no tomorrow.
You’ll wish you were dead, fuckwit!
-I’ll die first, fuck your stinking bastard soul,
I’ll take you with me, you fucking son of a bitch!
-Fuck you!
– No, fuck you.
– Fucking Addict!
– Just you wait, fuck.
– Four hours, fuckhead
you know I’ll be back.
-Fuck off!
– No, you!
– Fuck yourself!
– No, I will fuck you
the rest of your life.
– Fuck off, and die!
– No, that’ll be you, fuck
praying like a grandmother.
-Fuck your grandmother!
-Begging to die
you stupid fuck.
I’ve got you
by the bones
you stupid fuck.
-Fuck off.
-No you.

Victor Enns reads and writes poetry and fiction. Afghanistan Confessions, poems in the voice of Canadian soldiers, was published in 2014, boy in 2012. Lucky Man (2005) was nominated for the McNally Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year award.