English poetry

Poems in English


At Bessemer

19 years old and going nowhere,
I got a ride to Bessemer and walked
The night road toward Birmingham
Passing dark groups of men cursing
The end of a week like every week.
Out of town I found a small grove
Of trees, high narrow pines, and I
Sat back against the trunk of one
As the first rains began slowly.
South, the lights of Bessemer glowed
As though a new sun rose there,
But it was midnight and another shift
Tooled the rolling mills. I must
Have slept awhile, for someone
Else was there beside me. I could
See a cigarette’s soft light,
And once a hand grazed mine, man
Or woman’s I never knew. Slowly
I could feel the darkness fill
My eyes and the dream that came was
Of a bright world where sunlight
Fell on the long even rows of houses
And I looked down from great height
At a burned world I believed
I never had to enter. When
The true sun rose I was stiff
And wet, and there beside me was
The small white proof that someone
Rolled and smoked and left me there
Unharmed, truly untouched.
A hundred yards off I could hear
Cars on the highway. A life
Was calling to be lived, but how
And why I had still to learn.


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Poem At Bessemer - Philip Levine