Matthew Smith

To John Berryman


Peel, leaping, iron-tongued ghost, the face you wrote us of
exactly     off
and show your mask. Ding dong!
The church bell knelling wordlessly       your drop
tolled nothing, nothing, nothing kind & wrong
you did not already know.

Mad, love-racked Nietzsche, mutter scholars,
his arms & final free words stretched
longly to an old horse beaten blue
& blue across one sunny platz: I understand!
Thus he the beast embraced who could no longer stand
mankind. Neither, we hear tell, could you.

History consists (against all despair)
wholly of bad men & good
lies about them. Dear Mr. B.—— This here letter
won't let slip just who the madman be & who       the horse...
So leave you on that face of yours.
That's       better.