Donald Justice


Vague Memory from Childhood



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Vague Memory from Childhood


      It was the end of day—
Vast far clouds
In the zenith darkening
      At the end of day.

      The voices of my aunts


Sounded through an open window.
Bird-speech cantankerous in a high tree mingled
      With the voices of my aunts.

      I was playing alone,


Caught up in a sort of dream,
With sticks and twigs pretending,
      Playing there alone

      In the dust.


And a lamp came on indoors,
Printing a frail gold geometry
      On the dust.

      Shadows came engulfing


The great charmed sycamore.
It was the end of day.
      Shadows came engulfing.

Unflushed Urinals lines written in the Omaha bus station


Seeing them, I recognize the contempt
Some men have for themselves.

This man, for instance, zipping quickly up, head turned,


Like a bystander innocent of his own piss.

And here comes one to repair himself at the mirror,


Patting down damp, sparse hairs, suspiciously still black,
Poor bantam cock of a man, jaunty at one a.m., perfumed,
      undiscourageable . . .

O the saintly forbearance of these mirrors!


The acceptingness of the washbowls, in which we absolve ourselves!




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