August with Weldon Kees

From The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees, Bison Books:


The day the fat woman
In the bright blue bathing suit
Walked into the water and died,
I thought about the human
Condition. Pieces of old fruit
Came in and were left by the tide.

What I thought about the human
Condition was this: old fruit
Comes in and is left, and dries
In the sun. Another fat woman
In a dull green bathing suit
Dives into the water and dies.
The pulmotors glisten. It is noon.

We dry and die in the sun
While the seascape arranges old fruit,
Coming in with the tide, glistening
At noon. A woman, moderately stout,
In a nondescript bathing suit,
Swims to a pier. A tall woman
Steps toward the sea. One thinks about the human
Condition. The tide goes in and goes out.

Here is a repugnant portrait of August and of the "Human Condition." August is, after all, the month of spoilage, ennui, dog days, Hiroshima, fruit flies.   We know too well about the Human Condition.

Even as the poem repels, I smile over its cyclic form, the wit that plays with its dismal props, its pulmotors and bobbing fruit.

Donald Justice called Weldon Kees "one of the bitterest poets in history."  And yet there is pleasure to be had.  Recognition.

One thought on “August with Weldon Kees

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