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The Spectric School




Anne Knish

Elijah Hay

Emanuel Morgan





Vol. 3, No. 5




Published by OTHERS

FRANK SHAY, Agent, 17 West 8th Street, New York City

E. R. BROWN, Boston Agent, Cornhill


Price 15 Cents                                                                 12 Issues, $1.50







... "The theme of a poem is a spectrum through which all the light there is separates into rays, then recombines or focuses into a certain concentrated point of something or other in the reader's brain ... The complementary vision in the eyelid, 'after the exposure of the eye to intense light,' is called spectric, 'the after‑colors of the poet's initial vision'; and still further use is made of the term in the sense of spectral, 'the spectres which for the poet haunt all objects.' In other words, the apparently unrelated impressions reflecting through a theme or idea may be artfully enough selected or directly enough recorded, without the conventional mental or verbal bridges, to reproduce, in the reader's mind, their effect in the mind of the poet." . . .


                                                        The New Republic

Copyright, 1917

By Alfred Kreymborg




ANNE KNISH                                                                                            


OPUS 844


The rain‑patterns were weaving

When I awoke to the muffled shriek of dawn

Weaving in the grayness

Of a thunder‑smouldering

Under‑world that was more shadowy

Than the sibilant sleep‑world behind me.


The emergence of the spars and planks

Of a wrecked ship

From beneath the receding tide

Was a more heartening annunciation

Than this slow thrusting forth into being

Of the chairs and tables, books and pictures,

That last night sank into the deep dark.


Leaning my forehead against the cold and pungent pane,

I let my spirit life its coda, –  

Out from the wrecks and vestiges of yesterday's misfortune

To lose itself in the studied patterns,

Fathomless and untraceable,

Of rain.






OPUS 380


I had the moon for a reason.

Was it not enough?

You were unreasonable

You wanted love.

But oh the moon was my reason!

Sigh like a dove

And you shall never do better.

I had the moon.






OPUS 371


The tawny plexus, the animate focus, of infinite luminous rays,

Moving across the street

In the golden nimbus of light –

Reffecting, refracting, identifying

The flooding waves of ether:

It is an irony of the curled smiling Gods

That light, leaving the sun,

Should travel a hundred million miles

In adventure of desolate space, lonely and perilous,

To splinter and disintegrate at last

Against a street‑cur.






OPUS 360


The great lecturer,

(So described in his prospectuses,)

Paused over his tea, and then said to me ­–

"I don't even remember her name;

But she was pretty.

There were four hundred, ­– all girls, ­–

And there stood I

In pants

Looking down at this soft sea.

Lapping waves, lapping waves!

But this particular girl

Lifted a splintered edge of basalt

Above the undulations.

I could feel her grate against my keel,

Quite as pointed as she was pretty.

And her sharp resistance

To my white‑sailed progress around the bay

Sticks in my mind like a scar streaking my copper hull.

I don't even remember her name;

But she was pointed, surely,

And pretty."






OPUS 389


One by one the lights

Tinkle out along the crowd‑spattered street,

And with their sparks sting the night mad.


And I long for that elder night

Which once, lonely, dim, and secret,

Came towering to watchers on Assyrian hilltops.


Night that was darkness, night that held stars!

Night that was vastness and terrible song!


Now, like a desecration of paid dancers

Pirouetting in spangles through halls of the burial of kings,

The tinkle of lights hacks at the silence,

Clicking the key in the lock of the world.






OPUS 344


My lust of roundness will betray me

To the arms of God, some day.


And I shall feel that I have cheated the Devil

If at the end of life

I have concealed from him how well I could be tempted

By triangles.


As for the rest, my whole life seems a long

Effort to circumvent and overleap

And crawl beneath all manner of polygons,

Squares, rhomboids, parallelograms.

At night I dream that cubes are crushing me;

And a free octagon, if I should meet it,

Would strike me dead.






ELIJAH HAY                                                                         




Madam, you intrigue me!


I have come this far

Cautiously sneezing

Along the dusty high‑road of convention,

But now it leads no farther toward you.


Today I have reached the cross‑roads ­–

A weather‑beaten sign‑board

Blazons indecipherable wisdom

Of which the arrow‑heads, even,

Have been effaced.


What is the farther way?


Eastward, it leads through cultivated fields

Of intellectual fodder,

Where well‑fed cattle, herding together,

Browse content:

Are you of these?


Westward is a lane, hedge‑bordered,

Shady, and of gentle indirection,

In May, a bower of sentimental bloom,

But this November weather

Betrays its destiny, the poultry‑yard

Where geese foregather.


And there ahead the ancient swampy way

Modernized by a feeble plank or two:

But the morass of passion lures me not!

I see a vision of two plunging feet,

Discreetly, shod, yet struggling in vain­

Slime Creeps ankle‑high, knee‑high, thigh‑high,

Till all is swallowed save a brave silk hat

Floating alone, a symbol of the creed I perished shedding.


Yet somewhere you

Intelligent of my distress

Smile undisturbed­ ­–

I have no peddler's license to submit,

No wares to cry, nor any gift to bring­ ­–

I do not know

Anything new ­–

­In truth then, what have I to do with you?


Yet, madam, you intrigue me!







On the four posts of my bed

At the foot and at the head,

Phantom birds, in silence deep,

Grimly watch my troubled sleep.


Parrot sits on one head post

Like a controversial ghost

Giving insult and offence

Challenging to eloquence.


Pigeon, on the other side,

Preens the coo she is denied,

Sticky coils of saccharine

Snare my rage that might have been.


Stork, the time‑worn humorist,

Threatens jokes that have not missed

Poignant antiseptic bite

Since Eve's first‑born saw the light.


Last, the Carrion Crow: she keeps

Patient watch while her meal sleeps,

Gloomy, hungry Carrion Crow!

Dawn appears at last ‑ they go

Flap, flap, flap, on heavy wing

Through the twilight vanishing.








I opened the door

And night stared at me like a fool,

Heavy dull night, clouded and safe –

­I turned again toward the uncertainties

Of life within doors.


Once night was a lion,

No, years ago night was a python

Weaving designs against space

With undulations of his being­ –

Night was a siren once.


Oh sodden middle‑aged night,

I hate you!








You ­–

Too well‑fed for rebellion,

Too lazy for self‑respect, too timid for murder,

Disgracefully stole the trade‑mark of the fairy‑tale

"And they lived together happily

Ever after."





Madam, you are ever retreating

But you are never


Someday I shall pursue you

Hoping to see you






I might have loved your black

Wings of hair,

Your peasant‑Madonna features,

Your twisted smile, ­–

But having married a little brewer

You unforgiveably

Turned Anti‑Suffragist!





Old ladies, bless their hearts,

Are contented as house‑flies

Dozing against the wall –

But you,

Imprisoned in the forties,

Delirious, frenzied, helpless,

Are a fly drowning in a cocktail!








A Respectable Woman


How curious to find in you, Lolita,

The Geisha

Who sits and strums in the immortal

Attitude of submission.

There is a ledger in place of her soul!


Your shoulders sang for admiration;

Your hair wept for kisses;

Your voice curved softly, a caress –

 You came among us as a suppliant:

What had we you desired?


Bringing to market stolen goods,

Holding to view used charms,

Behold a hawker's spirit!


Eagles perch proudly in isolation,

They swoop to seize

A living prey –

Crows hover to feed,

Waiting with patience till the soul

Is fled

Leaving a helpless body – carrion –

 (Vile thoughts obsess me!)


What did you want, Lolita?





EMANUEL MORGAN                                                                           




The drunken heart

Weaves among glassfuls of yellow and sings as they empty,

Finding epics on the breast‑bone of a chicken

And lyrics under the lettuce.

It mounts a breaker of coffee, with the end of a cigarette shining.

And in the dance it runs along dexterously between your feet,

Like a French heel.


The drunken heart

Is a rear right tire for your run‑about.

It punctures to make you take notice, and then it curls up,

Flabbily indifferent in the darkness.


The drunken heart

Sings a song of sixpence.

You are the emptying bottle of rye, beloved,

You are also the next bottle.


The drunken heart

Rolls hoops with anybody;

It would like to roll hoops over judges and toward altars.


It rolls a hoop into your surf, beloved –

 But the hoop lies flat

And flaps about on your restless refusal.


The drunken heart

Plays with lilies at a funeral,


Like a grim photographer

Poses their syncopated heads.

It puts on black as mercilessly as the mourners,

And it acts motionless as cleverly as the corpse.

And then it slips out,

Just before the lid is closed.


The drunken heart

Is as full of hops as a green grass‑hopper . . .

There is a field of white clover leading to red clover,

And you, beloved,

Are a daisy.

The heart is as full of hops

As a red squirrel . . .

There is a stone‑wall, leading to a motherly tree

Which clicks with the flickering caress

And parts for the leap.

And you, beloved,

Are a nut.




EMANUEL MORGAN                                                                           


OPUS 115


I had drunk too much

And I heard music –

My windows were all open

And the scent of June blew through.


My door

Was your hand, leading me to green leaves.






OPUS 106


This, in impatience,

Is a spectrum of Howard Fribley.


Have you ever seen a fly pounce like a lion?

I have.


And I have seen the little legs of Professor Fribley's mind

Slily approach what seemed an idea

And pounce on it through his spectacles.


And I have heard the cords in his neck

Lower him into the grave,









Lady, you sit and wonder why ‑ but I cannot help you.


Life poured its plenty into your lap:

There were cocoanuts and fine‑tooth combs

And strings of strange touch, faceted with fire.

And there were kittens of love and one jaguar.

But there is nothing now,

Not even your folded hands

For they are toward heaven.

Poor, poor lady,

With your satin lap!








Someone was there . . .


So I put out my hand in the dark

And felt

The long lean fingers

Of the wind.


Have mercy!-








OPUS 103


1 am the soul, looking down.


Shod in little breezes,

My feet drift across the moonlight –

Are they leaves or snow?


How plumed they were with direction

In those other days

And swift with mirth! –

But now they drift

And are still.


I am the soul, looking down.










M. –


Though the ashes are gone and there is no bed left,

We birchen virgins

If we but touch each other and guard the draught

Become a deep‑bosomed fire.


H. –


The last log tossed here lightly

By an absent‑minded housemaid, ­– or was it God? –

Mournfully eager to burn, hisses joy.


K. –


Out of a cradling has there come a sunset?

Oh for the fellowship when

Once in Alexandria

The world of learning burned!


M. –


Laughter, dear friends, will do for kindling;

And we shall wear ridiculous beads of flame

To tinkle toward the corners of the world,

Slapping with light the faces of old fools.


H. –


Hot laughter

Practices arpeggios up my sides,

Bores persuasive fingers into my growling heart.


K. –


Get you to a nunnery!

The world of letters is too civilized for you.


M. –


There is no fig‑leaf for the mind,

Nothing to hide behind.

But facing its own nudity it laughs at shame.

Can we not do the same?


K. –


Enter, my beloveds!

All our emprises

Are toward a far Jerusalem, ­– and returning

Through the round of the world,

Find in the heart and loins of ancient home

The Sepulchre.


M. –


Without a pang

Art hangs beside us on this leaf,

An unrepentant thief.


H. –


And yonder, you fortunate andirons,

Heated by the consuming of another's being, ­–

Souls burning

Salute you.




There shall be ashes.