In Earnestness

William Welch

by William Welch

It is bitter earnestness 
that makes beauty 
– Robinson Jeffers
Night at five o’clock now and the streets
are filled with lights, not different in themselves
from what they were in summer, but perceived
as changed, cut diamonds in the cold.
No time now after work, people in files
running, shoulders hunched, toting bags
of groceries and yanking on children’s arms,
trying to reach home while it’s still gray.
Some ringed in groups, like reefs in the crowd,
smoking outside the taproom doors,
expend the lingering, last minute of the day
and go inside to keep themselves warm.
Night at five o’clock and the street lamps
replace the sun.  Row on row down the line
shine the little pumpkin suns attached 
to steel vines rooted in concrete ground.
And silence is the order beneath every sound,
runs in every voice like water underground.
At ten o’clock, silence also on darkened houses,
as if they are newly empty.  Along the avenue 
each is dark, or in one a single window’s lit,
one shape is silhouetted on glowing drapes.
Silence, except for the scratch of leaves
October has shaken from the locust trees,
and the soft jumble of plastic jugs
as three pickers sift through clear bags roadside
in the grass, gilded in the street lights
beneath the golden boughs dropping leaves.




For two years, William Welch worked as the editor of a literature magazine in Utica, NY.  He also acted as a board member of The Other Side of Utica, Inc., an art gallery which hosts poetry readings, music events, and lecture series featuring professors and writers from throughout the Upstate New York region.  He currently lives in Brooklyn, where he is developing an independent press called Black Rabbit in conjunction with friends who co-operate a poetry salon.