Beside the rivers of the midnight town
Where four-foot couples love and paupers drown,
Shots of quick hell we took, our final kiss,
The great and swinging bridge a bower for this.
Your cheek lay burning in my fingers’ cup;
Often my lip moved downward and yours up
Till both adjusted, tightened, locksmith-true:
The flesh precise, the crazy brain askew.
Roughly the train with grim and piston knee
Pounded apart our pleasure, you from me;
Flare warned and ticket whispered and bell cried.
Time and the locks of bitter rail divide.
For ease remember, all that parted lie:
Men who in camp of shot or doldrum die,
Who at land’s-end eternal furlough take
—This for memento as alone you wake.
John Frederick Nims, “Madrigal in Time of War” from Selected Poems (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1982). Used by permission of Bonnie Nims.
Source: Selected Poems
(The University of Chicago Press, 1982)
Poems by John Frederick Nims