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Philip Levine - Gangrene

Vous êtes sorti sain et sauf des basses 
calomnies, vous avey conquis les coeurs. 

Zola, J'accuse

One was kicked in the stomach 
until he vomited, then 
    made to put back 
into his mouth what they had 
brought forth; when he tried to drown 
    in his own stew 
he was recovered. "You are 
worse than a nigger or Jew," 

the helmeted one said. "You 
are an intellectal. 
    I hate your brown 
skin; it makes me sick." The tall 
intense one, his penis wired, 
    was shocked out of 
his senses in three seconds. 
Weakened, he watched them install 

another battery in 
the crude electric device. 
    The genitals 
of a third were beaten with 
a short wooden ruler: "Reach 
    for your black balls. 
I'll show you how to make love." 
When two of the beaten passed 

in the hall they did not know 
each other. "His face had turned 
    into a wound: 
the nose was gone, the eyes ground 
so far back into the face 
    they too seemed gone, 
the lips, puffed pieces of cracked 
blood." None of them was asked 

anything. The clerks, the police, 
the booted ones, seemed content 
    to inflict pain, 
to make, they said, each instant 
memorable and exquisite, 
    reform the brain 
through the senses. "Kiss my boot 
and learn the taste of French shit." 

Reader, does the heart demand 
that you bend to the live wound 
    as you would bend 
to the familiar body 
of your beloved, to kiss 
    the green flower 
which blooms always from the ground 
human and ripe with terror, 

to face with love what we have 
made of hatred? We must live 
    with what we are, 
you say, is enough. I 
taste death. I am among you 
    and I accuse 
you where, secretly thrilled by 
the circus of excrement, 

you study my strophes or 
yawn into the evening air, 
    tired, not amused. 
Remember what you have said 
when from your pacific dream 
    you awaken 
at last, deafened by the scream 
of your own stench. You are dead.

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Added: Feb 20 2003 | Viewed: 1737 times | Comments and analysis of Gangrene by Philip Levine Comments (0)

Gangrene - Comments and Information

Poet: Philip Levine
Poem: Gangrene
Volume: On The Edge
Year: Published/Written in 1963
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