Weldon Kees was born in Beatrice, Nebraska, on February 24, 1914. His father, John Kees, owned a hardware store. As a boy, Kees had an interest in music, art, and writing. He also published his own movie magazine. In 1935, he graduated from the University of Nebraska with a B.A. degree. While still in college, Kees began to publish fiction in many mid-western literary magazines.
Kees began to write and publish poems shortly after college. His first job was working for the Federal Writers' Project in Lincoln, Nebraska. Through the 1930s Kees mostly wrote short stories, placing them in the little magazines and intellectual quarterlies (Prairie Schoone, Horizon, Rocky Mountain ... more »
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Weldon Kees Poems
A Musician's Wife
Between the visits to the shock ward The doctors used to let you play On the old upright Baldwin Donated by a former patient
The dog stops barking after Robinson has gone. His act is over. The world is a gray world, Not without violence, and he kicks under the grand piano, The nightmare chase well under way.
The porchlight coming on again, Early November, the dead leaves Raked in piles, the wicker swing Creaking. Across the lots
A Distance From The Sea
To Ernest Brace "And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto
The Bell From Europe
The tower bell in the Tenth Street Church Rang out nostalgia for the refugee Who knew the source of bells by sound. We liked it, but in ignorance.
Squat, unshaven, full of gas, Joseph Samuels, former clerk in four large cities, out of work, waits in the darkened underpass.
Under the bunker, where the reek of kerosene Prepared the marriage rite, leader and whore, Imperfect kindling even in this wind, burn on.
Covering Two Years
This nothingness that feeds upon itself: Pencils that turn to water in the hand, Parts of a sentence, hanging in the air, Thoughts breaking in the mind like glass,
The End Of The Library
When the coal Gave out, we began Burning the books, one by one; First the set
Late Evening Song
For a while Let it be enough: The responsive smile, Though effort goes into it.
Butcher the evil millionaire, peasant, And leave him stinking in the square. Torture the chancellor. Leave the ambassador Strung by his thumbs from the pleasant
A Pastiche For Eve
Unmanageable as history: these Followers of Tammuz to the land That offered no return, where dust Grew thick on every bolt and door. And so the world
La Vita Nuova
Last summer, in the blue heat, Over the beach, in the burning air, A legless beggar lurched on calloused fists To where I waited with the sun-dazed birds.
Not a third that walks beside me, But five or six or more. Whether at dusk or daybreak Or at blinding noon, a retinue
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A Musician's Wife
Between the visits to the shock ward
The doctors used to let you play
On the old upright Baldwin
Donated by a former patient
Who is said to be quite stable now.
And all day long you played Chopin,
Badly and hauntingly, when you weren't
Screaming on the porch that looked
Like an enormous birdcage. Or sat
In your room and stared out at the sky.
You never looked at me at all.
I used to walk down to where the bus stopped
Over the hill where the eucalyptus trees
Moved in the fog, and stared down
At the lights coming on, in the white ...