A lone fire flickers in the dusty eyes.
The lips chant inaudibly.
The warped shrunken body straightens like a tree.
And he curses...
With uplifted arms and perished fingers,
So centuries ago
The old men cursed Acosta,
When they, prophetic, heard upon their sepulchres
Those feet that may not halt nor turn aside for ancient things.
Here in this room, bare like a barn,
Egos gesture one to the other—
Naked, unformed, unwinged
Egos out of the shell,
Examining, searching, devouring—
Avid alike for the flower or the dung...
(Having no dainty antennae for the touch and withdrawal—
Only the open maw...)
Expanding in the mean egg...
Little squat tailors with unkempt faces,
Pale as lard,
Fur-makers, factory-hands, shop-workers,
News-boys with battling eyes
And bodies yet vibrant with the momentum of long runs,
Here and there a woman...
Words, words, words,
Pattering like hail,
Like hail falling without aim...
Screaming each other down.
One motions perpetually,
Waving arms like overgrowths.
He has burning eyes and a cough
And a thin voice piping
Like a flute among trombones.
One, red-bearded, rearing
A welter of maimed face bashed in from some old wound,
Garbles Max Stirner.
His words knock each other like little wooden blocks.
No one heeds him,
And a lank boy with hair over his eyes
Pounds upon the table.
—He is chairman.
Egos yet in the primer,
Chanting grand arias...
Stunning with sound...
Half-heard like rain on pools...
Greater than harmonies...
—Gleaning out of it all
Passion, bewilderment, pain...
Egos yearning with the world-old want in their eyes—
Hurt hot eyes that do not sleep enough...
Striving with infinite effort,
Frustrate yet ever pursuing
The great white Liberty,
Trailing her dissolving glory over each hard-won barricade—
Only to fade anew...
Egos crying out of unkempt deeps
And waving their dreams like flags—
Winged and glorious...
A gas jet throws a stunted flame,
Vaguely illumining the groping faces.
And through the uncurtained window
Falls the waste light of stars,
As cold as wise men’s eyes...
Indifferent great stars,
At the secret meeting in this shut-in room,
Bare as a manger.
Lights go out
And the stark trunks of the factories
Melt into the drawn darkness,
Sheathing like a seamless garment.
And mothers take home their babies,
Waxen and delicately curled,
Like little potted flowers closed under the stars.