Bums On Waking
Bums, on waking,
Do not always find themselves
In gutters with water running over their legs
And the pillow of the curbstone
Turning hard as sleep drains from it.
Mostly, they do not know
But hope for where they shall come to.
The opening of the eye is precious,
And the shape of the body also,
Lying as it has fallen,
Disdainfully crumpling earthward
Out of alcohol.
Drunken under their eyelids
Like children sleeping toward Christmas,
They wait for the light to shine
Wherever it may decide.
Often it brings them staring
Through glass in the rich part of town,
Where the forms of humanized wax
Are arrested in midstride
With their heads turned, and dressed
By force. This is ordinary, and has come
To be disappointing.
They expect and hope for
Something totally other:
That while they staggered last night
For hours, they got clear,
Somehow, of the city; that they
Burst through a hedge, and are lying
In a trampled rose garden,
Pillowed on a bulldog's side,
A watchdog's, whose breathing
Is like the earth's, unforced --
Or that they may, once a year
(Any dawn now), awaken
In church, not on the coffin boards
Of a back pew, or on furnace-room rags,
But on the steps of the altar
Where candles are opening their eyes
With all-seeing light
And the green stained-glass of the windows
Falls on them like sanctified leaves.
Who else has quite the same
Commitment to not being sure
What he shall behold, come from sleep --
A child, a policeman, an effigy?
Who else has died and thus risen?
Never knowing how they have got there,
They might just as well have walked
On water, through walls, out of graves,
Through potter's fields and through barns,
Through slums where their stony pillows
Refused to harden, because of
Their hope for this morning's first light,
With water moving over their legs
More like living cover than it is.
James Dickey's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Bums On Waking by James Dickey )
- Ma mate kahuchhi, gajanan mishra
- The New Watch, Terence Murphy
- My mother is telling me, gajanan mishra
- The Search, david kush
- Belissima, Patricia Spears Jones
- Ghosts, Patricia Spears Jones
- Let me proceed forward, gajanan mishra
- Beloved of God, Patricia Spears Jones
- What I Have Not Done for Love, Patricia Spears Jones
- Painkiller, Patricia Spears Jones
Poem of the Day
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
- Heather Burns
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(10 November 1759 – 9 May 1805)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
(24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631)