by Robert Lietz
Fred Donald Archer, owner of a gold-filled capped Venus fountain pen, is a veteran of World War Two and Korean action. From 1957 through 1966 he was Vice-President, aspiring to the Presidency, of The Day School of Business. Archer is the speaker of the poem, reflecting on the plateau his career has reached, apparently end-stopped because, he suspects, of his family-origins in rural poverty.
February , 1966 "The swans complain, bark like murder as another season starts. He trades on rooms declared to his own honor, refreshed by these who choose up sides, indulge themselves and call him President. The fountain dancing in high-ceilinged light, complements the claret glowing into song, the faces glowing into song, that glide among and shine along these walls to his amusement, pursuing futures in his word, scions of beer and blood and cigar-making gone haywire, enlarging the swans' wild script, exciting the looks of partners shaken now by trespass. Let the swans declare a creature's hankering for space! And let this latter Day profess! Let whispering, full of gossip, skin, begin this run of his grey fingers at cup's brim! * Why ask a quartered thing to speak? Ask angels after all, compulsive travelers, to reveal worlds to him, 50 years keeping the stables clean, convening this bright processional, these voices, adding shells to shells, as pebbles skim and sink, as waters absorb the mystery, a spirited dust absorbs the lead guitar and nectarines? * These toads, this hunchback, pondering warmed stone, raised there to keep their witness and keep seen, abide as harnessed things abide, and, in percussing starlight now, his high-wire public self, pronouncing boulevards, planting his well-made shoes that cannot hold the slope, groping the surrounding air to steady his descent. They applaud to join him, over pot chunks and dealt bread, expecting one, of the many stones to float, one of the many dreams, laid out on water as the wine-level drops, having come to him for this, a ping of voices approaching out of doors, that dulls at his address, a cartsman-made philosophy, dissolving into them, as lost as Europe had been lost, and the inflections lost in last names on promotion. * Could that sideyard litter of Plymouths and junked Fords, (none of them worth the quart it takes to try them out,) flare brightly in this dark, as if the space, the harpsichord, the hammered strings, were not more personal, and fluttering brushes not enough, to set between a man and his deep travel, where he appears to find himself, feeling the chips of light that form between some men and their apparel? * And here, at the edge of woods squared off by the State routes and Interstate, I watch the squirrel burn, a high-wire gasp I stop to marvel at, dismantling hibernal light, taking apart what dreams of rich retirement, as lost as once the colors of the barnboards had been lost, and as these nightly dead a man would take up with his breakfast, leaving the faces up to him, kids nobody talked out of their nightmares, and this feel of Lent ahead, in his Ash Wednesday services."