The Foul Rag-and-Bone Shop


by Louis Daniel Brodsky



Autumn leaves fall like deer hooves —
The breeze’s speedy feet.
Summer closes its eyes and sleeps
Under a lumbering muscatel sky.
The dry creek that bracelets this land
Is a precious antique. No griefs
Lie beneath its serene patina.

A dry-wood fire is quietly consumed
Inside an outdoor pit. Pious flames,
A cardinal’s embroidered surplices,
Twist high into the atmosphere,
While its smoke, the unkempt beard
Of a parishioner come to Eucharist,
Veers low as if to kiss his feet.

In this valley no city has fortified
Nor man been forced to compromise,
Nature has set aside her prize.
This is a garden of graceful repose,
Where creatures pace and people go
To expose the ghost they closely hide:
That love which He alone can know.

Use the player below to listen to Louis Daniel Brodsky read this poem.



The Foul Rag-and-Bone Shop is a volume of twenty-nine poems written over a five-year span. The book, conceived in 1967 but expanded in 1969, is the only complete poetry manuscript that the author produced from mid-1967 to August 1971, and its highly symbolic, imagistic pieces reflect his artistic development during that time, including influences from the social and political climates he observed on the East and West Coasts, where "night spreads over itself, / Like orgiastic reptiles just hatched," as well as in the Midwest, where his "brothers of the slime and mire" seem only too eager to "load their minds' quags / With boisterous folly." Unable to settle into such a prosaic existence, he ponders, "Was there ever a rebel born of contentment?"

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