The pure products of America go crazy

The pure products of America
go crazy—
mountain folk from Kentucky
or the ribbed north end of
Jersey
with its isolate lakes and
valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves
old names
and promiscuity between
devil-may-care men who have taken
to railroading
out of sheer lust of adventure—
and young slatterns, bathed
in filth
from Monday to Saturday
to be tricked out that night
with gauds
from imaginations which have no
peasant traditions to give them
character
but flutter and flaunt
sheer rags—succumbing without
emotion
save numbed terror
under some hedge of choke-cherry
or viburnum—
which they cannot express—
Unless it be that marriage
perhaps
with a dash of Indian blood
will throw up a girl so desolate
so hemmed round
with disease or murder
that she’ll be rescued by an
agent—
reared by the state and
sent out at fifteen to work in
some hard-pressed
house in the suburbs—
some doctor’s family, some Elsie—
voluptuous water
expressing with broken
brain the truth about us—
her great
ungainly hips and flopping breasts
addressed to cheap
jewelry
and rich young men with fine eyes
as if the earth under our feet
were
an excrement of some sky
and we degraded prisoners
destined
to hunger until we eat filth
while the imagination strains
after deer
going by fields of goldenrod in
the stifling heat of September
Somehow
it seems to destroy us
It is only in isolate flecks that
something
is given off
No one
to witness
and adjust, no one to drive the car
-to Elsie by William Carlos Williams

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