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.