“I can see there is no god in this country and no god” (J. Baker)

Batmale Hall Exterior
The English Department (Batmale Hall R556) at City College of San Francisco holds 35 past issues of Forum, the earliest issue dated 1948.

Poem

by J. Baker

At five o’ clock,
with August faintly weeping at the news,
we hit the dead end rump of Texas and take the border
town in one smooth grab.

The light is fairly even, inside and outside.
I can see there is no god in this country and no god
in the smelling bodies in the smoking cabin of an
American humble, Greyhound Bus.
So my mind goes backward to La.,
Mississippi, Alabama, and
nowhere will my mind rest, nor
in the land I go on toward.
For I have lived too many places poorly
and with the promise of riches always
and elsewhere.

Her dark, dirty baby cries next to me,
cries in Mexican for a rest stop,
an old white man from Georgia lights a brown cigarette
and thinks of murder and supper and sleep.
Four trees with their colors cased in evening mist
emerge like four green bottles spaced out on the
tight horizon, and are gone.

Mother, were all my life’s
hard indoor afternoons to
bloom like this, in August,
just outside the Texas tableland?

“Poem,” by J. Baker originally published in Forum (1966, City College of San Francisco).

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