James Schuyler


  Running Footsteps  


A thin brown stain
down the white brick wall
I guess yes
the new roof leaks
and there are holes
drilled in the asphalt
out there where manhole
covers used to blow:
escape for leaks. Sleet
down the chimney:
a rustle broken
into dots and dashes. Then
a midwinter downpour.
The streets are rivers
or the water streets
in a smalltown dream
"They live on Water Street
near the corner of Front Street
off Railroad Avenue."
The current fails.
Lights go out
in parts of town. In
the slosh there are
running footsteps: has
got to go though
an act of clouds would will
otherwise. Otherwise,
had stayed where was… ?
Couldn't. Why?
On and off lights
prolong into surges
the chatter of
rain on rain, the up
close rats' nesting noise
in the chimney: "It's
a good night to stay
in" so out you
go into it it's
almost like
that other night
you left holding
your breath to
descend and issue
screaming: your
tonight running
footsteps, rain
icy and loud
is a kind of
what to your
surprise is you
screaming in
fear, in rage,
to find relief
muscular surges
running footsteps
the rain
to be alive



p.63 in The Crystal Lithium; p. 114 in Collected Poems