Dream Song 41: If we sang in the wood (and Death is a German expert) by John Berryman
If we sang in the wood (and Death is a German expert)
while snows flies, chill, after so frequent knew
so many all nothing,
for lead & fire, it's not we would assert
particulars, but animal; cats mew,
horses scream, man sing.
Or: men pslam. Man palms his ears and moans.
Death is a German expert. Scrambling, sitting,
spattering, we hurry.
I try to. Odd & trivial, atones
somehow for my escape a bullet splitting
my trod-on instep, fiery.
The cantor bubbled, rattled. The Temple burned.
Lurch with me! phantoms of Varshava. Slop!
When I used to be,
who haunted, stumbling, sewers, my sacked shop,
roofs, a dis-world ai! Death was a German