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The Hovel

by C.K. Williams

Slate-scraps, split stone, third-hand splintering timber; rusted nails and
dirt floor, chinks the wind seeps through, the stink of an open sewer
    streaming behind;
rags, flies, stench, and never, it seems, clear air, light, a breeze of
    benevolent clemency.

My hut, my home, the destiny only deferred of which all I live now is
    deflection, illusion:
war, plunder, pogrom; crops charred, wife ravished, children starved,
    stolen, enslaved;
muck, toil, hunger, never a moment for awareness, of song, sun, dawn’s
    immaculate stillness.

Back bent, knees shattered, teeth rotting; fever and lesion, the physical
    knowledge of evil;
illiterate, numb, insensible, superstitious, lurching from lust to hunger to
    unnameable dread;
the true history I inhabit, the sea of suffering, the wave to which I am
    froth, scum.


C. K. Williams Selected Poems appeared in 1994. His new book, Vigil, will be out in November of 1996. He teaches at Princeton University. (1996)

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