EAST OF EDEN
is mountains & desert
until you cross the passes into India .
It is 3 o’clock in the afternoon or
twenty of 8 at night, depending
which clock you believe .
AND WEST IS WEST
It’s where the cups and saucers are,
the plates, the knives and forks .
The turkey sandwich comes alone
or with onions if you like
The old newspaperman always takes his hat off
& lays it atop the cigarette machine;
the younger, so-hip journalist, leaves his on
The old man sits down in the corner, puts
his hat back on. No challenge, but
it’s visible, the beau geste .
hangs from the side of the younger man’s mouth, he’s
putting himself on .
East of Eden is mountains & desert & every
thing creeps up on you & comes in the night,
when one would least put out his hand
to offer, or to defend .
Paul Blackburn, “Ritual X : The Evening Pair of Ales” from The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn. Copyright © 1989 by Paul Blackburn. Reprinted by permission of Joan Blackburn.
Source: The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn
(Persea Books, 1989)