Senator Kennedy’s Assassination
1. Before the news that his injuries proved fatal.
Worst of all, those who are not hurt.
Who bend this way and that
to avoid touching a cat’s mess in the dirt.
Whose minds are clean.
Who do not waste their sentiment on one man –
but see things clearly, as they should be seen.
“An example of the ‘worm-can-turn’ hysteria
pervading the swollen smile of America –
nothing, after all, compared to a war!”
Damn these historical analyses!
Damn the wide-eyed solemnities
of minds that type themselves out! Damn all these!
Robert Kennedy, wretch of night,
let him come back to simple daylight
buttercups, birds chirping, a wind blowing light
Let those of us who are not hurt –
except of course, those who are not hurt –
If we could only clear a cat’s mess in the dirt!
2. After the news.
Damn ourselves, for children, that we deny
one of the favourites in the human eye.
Because of meanness in the human child
a full and outward life is often killed.
3. Sirhan Sirhan.
Fire, because of what I am born in. None
can say I am wrong. An Arab has a country.
Now let him send his jets of blood to Israel!
I would rather be mad than not fire.
Senator Kennedy’s brother, President John Kennedy, had been assassinated five years earlier in 1963. I wrote a poem at the time I find too jejune to associate myself with entirely, yet feel it may be worth the recording.
I heard a cry on the wind, The king is dead!
And stood amazed as all that I had known,
resplendent, like a many-coloured stone
smashed suddenly, fell in atoms down my head,
tokens of evil. As the pattern spread,
because I knew that nothing could atone,
not even anger – when my rage had gone –
I searched for what it was a gunman fled.
Because we trusted one American
down darkened alleys we are left to grope
for vanished confidence. Rock-firm he held,
who stood for safety and the rights of man
and something finer.
Blinded, we may hope
the wind will shake a cobweb from the world.