At This Precise Moment of History
With Goody-two-shoes running for Congress
We are testing supersonic engines
To keep God safe in the cherry tree.
When I said so in this space last Thursday
I meant what I said: power struggles.
2. You would never dream of such corn. The colonials in
sandalwood like running wide open and available for
protection. You can throw them away without a refund.
3. Dr. Hanfstaengel who was not called Putzi except by
those who did not know him is taped in the national
archives. J. Edgar Hoover he ought to know
And does know.
But calls Dr. Hanfstaengel Putzi nevertheless
Somewhere on tape in the
He (Dr. H.) is not a silly man.
He left in disgust
About the same time Shirley Temple
Sat on Roosevelt’s knee
An accomplished pianist
A remembered personality.
He (Dr. H.) began to teach
To his mother a Queen Bee
In the American colony.
4. What is your attitude toward historical subjects?
—Perhaps it’s their size!
5. When I said this in space you would never believe
Corn Colonel was so expatriated.
—If you think you know,
Take this wheel
And become standard.
6. She is my only living mother
This bee of the bloody arts
Bandaging victims of Saturday’s dance
Like a veritable sphinx
In a totally new combination.
7. The Queen Mother is an enduring vignette
at an early age.
Now she ought to be kept in submersible
For a while.
8. What is your attitude toward historical subjects
Like Queen Colonies?
—They are permanently fortified
For shape retention.
9. Solid shades
Seven zippered pockets
Close to my old place
Waiting by the road
Big disk brakes
Long lights stabbing at the
Two together piggyback
In a stark sports roadster
Regretting his previous outburst
Al loads his Cadillac
10. She is my only living investment
She examines the housing industry
Counts 3.5 million postwar children
And draws her own conclusion
In the commercial fishing field.
11. Voice of little sexy ventriloquist mignonne:
“Well I think all of us are agreed and sincerely I my-
self believe that honest people on both sides have got
it all on tape. Governor Reagan thinks that nuclear
wampums are a last resort that ought not to be re-
sorted.” (But little mignonne went right to the point
with: “We have a commitment to fulfill and we better
do it quick.” No dupe she!)
All historians die of the same events at least twice.
13. I feel that I ought to open this case with an apology.
Dr. H. certainly has a beautiful voice. He is not a silly
man. He is misunderstood even by Presidents.
14. You people are criticizing the Church but what are
you going to put in her place? Sometime sit down with
a pencil and paper and ask yourself what you’ve got
that the Church hasn’t.
15. Nothing to add
But the big voice of a detective
Using the wrong first names
In national archives.
16. She sat in shocking pink with an industrial zipper spe-
cially designed for sitting on the knees of presidents in
broad daylight. She spoke the president’s mind. “We
have a last resort to be resorted and we better do it
quick.” He wondered at what he had just said.
17. It was all like running wideopen in a loose gown
At least someplace.
Thomas Merton, “At This Precise Moment of History” from The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton. Copyright © 1968, 1969 by The Trustees of the Merton Legacy Trust. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.
Poet Thomas James Merton 1915–1968
Poems by Thomas James Merton
More poems by Thomas James Merton (21 poems)
- East with Ibn Battuta
- Fable for a War
- How to Enter a Big City
- Hymn of Not Much Praise for New York City
- Iphigenia: Politics
- Le Secret
- Place Names
- The Despairing Man Draws a Serpent
- The Oracle
- The Song of the Traveller
- The Strife between the Poet and Ambition
- The Widow of Naim
- Untitled [1. Now you are all here you might as well know ...]