Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics

Kenneth Rexroth: Portrait of the Author as a Young Anarchist

1917-18-19,
While things were going on in Europe,
Our most used term of scorn or abuse
Was “bushwa.” We employed it correctly,
But we thought it was French for “bullshit.”
I lived in Toledo, Ohio,
On Delaware Avenue, the line
Between the rich and poor neighborhoods.
We played in the jungles by Ten Mile Creek,
And along the golf course in Ottawa Park.
There were two classes of kids, and they
Had nothing in common: the rich kids
Who worked as caddies, and the poor kids
Who snitched golf balls. I belonged to the
Saving group of exceptionalists
Who, after dark, and on rainy days,
Stole out and shat in the golf holes.


 

From Bureau of Public Secrets. If you enjoy this poem, please treat yourself  to the Rexroth’s Complete Poems (Copper Canyon Press).

Kenneth Rexroth (1905 – 1982) was an American poet, translator and critical essayist. He is regarded as a central figure in the San Francisco Renaissance, and paved the groundwork for the movement. Although he did not consider himself to be a Beat poet, and disliked the association, he was dubbed the “Father of the Beats” by Time Magazine. He was among the first poets in the United States to explore traditional Japanese poetic forms such as haiku. He was also a prolific reader of Chinese literature.

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