Two Poems

Carl Rakosi

Americana

Attention, motorists!
The flag of the School Patrol
is down.
Stop!

and let the little shavers
pour out
under the benign smile
of the driver,

every one in double file,
the eye
of the teacher
shepherding them,

their little voices
chattering away.
a criss-cross babble.
How happy can you be?

There will be ice cream for everyone.
Make way,
let them cross the street

and after them
the little old ladies.
greet them
with a sweet smile

Were they not mothers once?

And a band is blaring away
as if all hell

had broken loose
under the eye
of Sousa himself

and all is well
in this fair land.

ha! ha!

A Ditty for Louis Zukofsky

By a tree and a river an exegete linguist
sat singing ‘Zukofsky, Zukofsky, Zukofsky

and I said to him, ‘Superbird,
why are you sitting there, singing
Zukofsky, Zukofsky, Zukofsky”?

Is it lyric asthenia, birdie?’
I cried, ‘or a concept too big
for your little inside?’

With a shake of his tight little head
he replied: ‘Oh, Zukofsky, Zukofsky, Zukofsky.’

Note: Written when Zukofsky was being showered with praise for the impenetrable portions of his work. Hugh Kenner, the distinguished critic, wrote that it would take a generation to plumb its depths.