Survey

By Donald Revell b. 1954 Donald Revell
I am so lonely for the twentieth century,
for the deeply felt, obscene graffiti
of armed men and the beautiful bridges
that make them so small and carry them
into the hearts of cities written like words
across nothing, the dense void
history became in my beautiful century.
When a man talks reason, he postpones something.
He gets in the way of a machine that knows him
for the sad vengeance he is, somewhere close
to the bald name of his city. "New York"
means "strike back." "Attica" means "strike back"
and so does anyplace in the world
in the huge eyes and tender hands of my century.

I went to the capital. I had a banner,
and there were thousands of people like me.
There was an airplane, and for a moment
heavy with laurel and sprays of peach blossom
something that has never happened before
stretched like a woman's shadow on a hedge
between the plane and the people who saw it flying.
It was the real name of the century.
It told everyone to strike back
until there was no reason in the world
except a machine stalled overhead
that knows everyone and is as delicate
as peach blossom. But the poor years come too late.

Donald Revell, "Survey" from New Dark Ages. Copyright © 1990 by Donald Revell.  Reprinted by permission of Donald Revell.

Source: New Dark Ages (Wesleyan University Press, 1990)

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Poet Donald Revell b. 1954

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, History & Politics

 Donald  Revell

Biography

Born in the Bronx, Donald Revell received his PhD at SUNY Buffalo and is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, translations, and essays. Steeped in the work of Henry David Thoreau and William Carlos Williams, Revell’s poetry is “seriously Christian but not doctrinaire, mystical without setting intellect aside, angry over political matters without ever growing stale or shrill, and more often joyful than any other . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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