O’Dowd Zero

This is the first draft of 'The First Letter', a poem which later appeared in Leaves of Glass.
& you make the leaves of grass & of the trees
speak for themselves! great scald of demos i
am yours oh master bending down to me! like
a tree of man & of men (mighty rivers flowing
through your poems & the day like a dripping
tap & i a drum that tap will fill with a restless
spirit stranded here beneath the reeds on the
river's bank & there we shall walk my prophet
after you have dunked my head & blessed it
made me drink the brown river waters silted
by imperial drones the fury of our resistance
master! none shall stand before us (tho none
be in danger from our gentle hands apostles
walking together our hands brushing gently
the grasses rushes our secret lives rising up
like nations to be counted among the new &
old this new democracy! of our own making!
bard of wisdom & of long summer days alone
in libraries lit by a stained glass sun reading
from your poems arrayed in battle formations
line after line of soldiers' language & orders
tho not from on high the master's commands
we cannot hear for the rushing sound of that
river finally leaping free of drought (old grey
father of my new religion one of men & words
that flow like rivers of milk from the trunks of
she-oaks river gums as swarms of bees attack
pollen seas & our fingers sticky with that love

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