Above the City

By James Laughlin 1914–1997 James Laughlin
You know our office on the 18th   
floor of the Salmon Tower looks   
      right out on the

Empire State and it just happened   
we were there finishing up some   
      late invoices on

a new book that Saturday morning   
when a bomber roared through the   
      mist and crashed

flames poured from the windows   
into the drifting clouds and sirens   
      screamed down in

the streets below it was unearthly   
but you know the strangest thing   
      we realized that

none of us were much surprised be-
cause we'd always known that those   
      two paragons of

progress sooner or later would per-
form before our eyes this demon-
      stration of their
      true relationship.

James Laughlin,“Above the City,” from Poems New and Selected. Copyright 1938, 1945, © 1959, 1965, 1969, 1970, 1978, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996 by James Laughlin. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Poems New and Selected (1998)

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Poet James Laughlin 1914–1997

Subjects Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries

 James  Laughlin


While a sophomore on leave of absence from Harvard University, James Laughlin met Ezra Pound in Rapallo, Italy, and was invited to attend the "Ezuversity"—Pound's term for the private tutoring he gave Laughlin over meals, on hikes, or whenever the master paused in his labors. "I stayed several months in Rapallo at the 'Ezuversity,' learning and reading," recalls Laughlin in an interview with Linda Kuehl for the New York Times . . .

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SUBJECT Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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