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Prizes, Places & Praises

Thomas McGrath in The Movie at the End of the World

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You out there, so secret
what makes you think you're alone?


We forget our history every fifteen minutes.


I had this notion there's a covered wagon train that's crossing the country, and the Indians start — naturally they're supposed to attack, right? So they whip up the horses like mad and then they start throwing things overboard. One of the things they threw overboard was the old grandfather clock which deprives us of time and history. Then they threw over Shakespeare and out goes literature. If they had a spinet, they would throw that out, and then crockery and the kitchen arts are out. And finally as the Indians get closer, they throw grandma overboard. Perhaps there's a pack of wolves riding along with the Indians. So family history is lost. And we all arrive in California and eat hamburgers the rest of our lives and watch the Indians attacking the wagon trains.


On the Christmas white plains of the floured and flowering kitchen table
The holy loaves of the bread are slowly being born:
Rising like low hills in the steepled pastures of light —
Lifting the prairie farmhouse afternoon on their arching backs.

It must be Friday, the bread tells us as it climbs
Out of itself like a poor man climbing up on a cross
Toward transfiguration.

And it is a Mystery, surely,
If we think that this bread rises only out of the enigma
That leavens the Apocalypse of yeast, or ascends on the beards and beads
Of a rosary and priesthood of barley those Friday heavens

But we who will eat the bread when we come in
Out of the cold and dark know it is a deeper mystery
That brings the bread to rise:

it is the love and faith
Of large and lonely women, moving like floury clouds
In farmhouse kitchens, that rounds the loaves and the lives
Of those around them...

just as we know it is hunger —
Our own and others — that gives all salt and savor to bread.

But that is a workaday story and this is the end of the week.


It is only under the branchy tree of noon in the round song of the colloquy of occupations that the building is put together. In that golden potlatch, in a confederation of wild talk unstable as a union of Sioux Indians, the building goes up. Community of dream and sweat.


My dead father comes back
In the shape of my little son.
And I sing him to sleep with his songs
Still in my own child's ear.


Poetry is a sophisticated scream.


Behold, Friends, once more the Revolution has performed its famous
Disappearing act! And never before has one been preceded
By so many prophets! By so many holy books — all in translation!
By so many young men with long hair, so many poets with short

AND the elephant bells!

Oo la! And Incense
The flowers!
The flowers, alas, which never found the barrel
Of the gun that power grows out of.

And now the President, reborn
Out of the mystical body of the One and Universal
Voting machine, takes off the mask.

A thick and heavy
Darkness, like rust, is collecting in the amplified guitars
The President will make the Airplane fly! He will make the Grateful Dead
Truly grateful! The President is casting the other I Ching....

A hard rain is falling; the roads are icing up.
But in every drop of the rain, the sailors of the Potemkin wake....


How could I have come so far?
(And always on such dark trails!)
I must have traveled by the light
Shining from the faces of all those I have loved.

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