Cold Lost Marbles

Tags: ,

A Poem by William S. Burroughs

my ice skates on a wall
lustre of stumps washes his lavander horizon
he’s got a handsome face of a lousy kid
rooming-houses dirty fingers
whistled in the shadow
“Wait for me at the detour.”
river… snow… some one vague faded in a mirror
filigree of trade winds
clouds white as lace circling the pepper trees
the film is finished
memory died when their photos weather-worn points of
polluted water under the trees in the mist shadow of 
boys by the daybreak in the peony fields cold lost
marbles in the room carnations three ampoules of
morphine little blue-eyes-twilight grins between his
legs yellow fingers blue stars erect boys of sleep
have frozen dreams for I am a teenager pass it on
flesh and bones withheld too long yes sir oui oui
Crapps’ last map… lake… a canoe… rose tornado in
the harvest brass echo tropical jeers from Panama
City night fences dead fingers you are in your own body
around and maybe a boy skin spreads to something
else on Long Island the dogs are quiet.

Originally published in A Descriptive Catalogue of the William S. Burroughs Archive, London, Covent Garden and Am Here Books, 1973. Autograph note from the Burroughs Archive indicates the text was “sent to Expatriate Review, Friday July 22, 1972.” Republished by RealityStudio in August 2010. Thanks to Gary Lee-Nova for the transcription.

2 thoughts on “Cold Lost Marbles

  1. Some readers of William S. Burroughs will recognize the three-word title of this poem as part of a sentence in the last paragraph of COBBLESTONE GARDENS, Cherry Valley Editions (edited by Charles and Pam Plymell, 1976 (New York) and reprinted in THE BURROUGHS FILE, City Lights Books, 1984.

    The entire paragraph is in fact a single sentence and the content is patently poetic.

    Besides ‘cold lost marbles,’ there are several other fragments of the poem found in this paragraph.

    “When the world has been reduced to a dark wood to a beach I will find you filigree of trade winds clouds white as lace circling the pepper trees and overcast morning in July a taste of ashes floats on the air a smell of wood sweating on the hearth weather worn points of polluted water under the trees in the mist soaked flowers havoc of avenues mist from the canals in the fields shadows of boys by the daybreak in the peony fields coachmen and animals of dream cold lost marbles in the room full of shadows you can hear indistinctly the soft sad murmuring of two children on blue sunset evenings I shall go down the path little blue eyed twilight grins between his legs crushing the soft grass in a dream I shall feel its coolness on my feet rose tornado in the harvest city night fences dead fingers a storm came and chased the sky away on Long Island the dogs are quiet in the gray valleys the clock of life has just stopped.”

  2. Just the

    COLD LOST MARBLES

    by itself is a brilliant fucking poem. First real loss before the clock means something.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *