Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Kenneth Fearing: LOVE, 20 Cents The First Quarter Mile

All right, I may have lied to you, and about you, and made a few pronouncements a bit too sweeping, perhaps, and possibly forgotten to tag the bases here or there,
And damned your extravagance, and maligned your tastes, and libeled your relatives, and slandered a few of your friends,
O.K.,
Nevertheless, come back.

.

Come home. I will agree to forget the statements that you issued so copiously to the neighbors and the press,
And you will forget that figment of your imagination, the blonde from Detroit;
I will agree that your lady friend who lives above us is not crazy, bats, nutty as they come, but on the contrary rather bright,
And you will concede that poor old Steinberg is neither a drunk nor a swindler, but simply a guy, on the eccentric side, trying to get along
(Are you listening, you bitch, and have you got this straight?)
Because I forgive you, yes, for everything,
I forgive you for being beautiful and generous and wise.
I forgive you, to put it simply, for being alive, and pardon you, in short, for being you.

.

Because tonight you are in my hair and eyes,
And every street light that our taxi passes shows me you again, still you. And because tonight all other nights are black, all other hours are cold and far away, and now, this minute, the stars are very near and bright.
Come back. We will have a celebration to end all celebrations.
We will invite the undertaker who lives beneath us, and a couple of the boys from the office, and some other friends,
And Steinberg, who is off the wagon, by the way, and that insane woman who lives upstairs, and a few reporters, if anything should break.


Kenneth Flexner Fearing (1902 – 1961) was an American poet and novelist. A major poet of the Depression era, he addressed the shallowness and consumerism of American society as he saw it, often by ironically adapting the language of commerce and media. Critics have associated him with the American Left to varying degrees; his poetry belongs to the American proletarian poetry movement, but is rarely overtly political. Fearing published six original collections of poetry between 1929 and 1956. He wrote his best-known poems during the late 1920s and 1930s.

Copyright 1940 Kenneth Fearing. Included in Vox Populi for noncommercial educational use only.

4 comments on “Kenneth Fearing: LOVE, 20 Cents The First Quarter Mile

  1. michaelgregoryaz
    February 13, 2021

    Wonderful to see Fearing. One of our great undeservedly forgotten poets.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rosemaryboehm
    February 12, 2021

    Just wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vincent Spina
    February 12, 2021

    Such a nice poem: humor, serious.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on February 12, 2021 by in Humor and Satire, Poetry and tagged , , , .

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