It is autumn but early. No crow cries from the dry woods.
The house droops like an eyelid over the leprous hill.
In the bald barnyard one horse, a collection of angles
Cuts at the flies with a spectral tail. A blind man’s
Sentence, the road goes on. Lifts as the slope lifts it.

Comes now one who has been conquered
By all he sees. And asks what—would have what—
Poor fool, frail, this man, mistake, my hero?

More than the hands on the lines and the back aching,
The daily wrestle with the angel in the south forty,
More than this forever lonely round
Round hunger and impotence, the prickly pair:
Banker or broker can have dreamed no fate
More bankrupt than this godlike heresy
Which asks of love more leave than extended credit,
Needs comradeship more than a psalm or surely these
Worn acres even if over them
Those trained to it see signs of they say God.

Thomas McGrath, “Woodcut” from Movie At The End of the World. Copyright © 1972 by Thomas McGrath. Used by permission of Swallow Press/Ohio University Press.
Source: Selected Poems 1938-1988 (Swallow Press, 1988)
More Poems by Thomas McGrath