College Days (1953-1957)

William Kent

> THE FAN (1957)


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Ah! how sweet the flavor of solitude,
Wherein a man may savor of his own sole self
And reflect -
Reflect upon his inner chart whereon his deeds are writ -
And think them over once or twice, and ask the worth of it -
Then think some more and start to brood,
It starts a blue and bluer mood.
There's no one near to break the spell
The soul has found its little hell
The sweet becomes the bitter ache

* * *

I have fallen much in the past few months - as you seem to have noticed. I miss the old pain, the ache of a lost and sensitive soul - instead of this phony, worthless front of confidence that bottles me and labels me mediocre.

I am empty now, for I have rid myself of the sham for the moment, but the reality is too far back in memory for me to recapture. I merely long - for something, even for a little honest sadness; I have not known sadness of the soul for a long, long time.

Something great wants its way out of me, but it is now corked too tight, too deep.

Or is this all just bullshit?


My only hope is that many great careers were born late in life.

* * *

The Blue Mood and the Indigo Soul
Did sail to sea one day.
Twin ships they were, that made great splash
On a grey and stormy bay.
The Blue Mood's captain was myself;
In search of Life I sailed -
The Indigo Soul was your own self;
The same course you did set.

We sailed abreast, our eyes ahead
In search of something Great.
We didn't see the reef ahead
Until it was too late.
The Blue Mood and the Indigo Soul
Did sink beneath the brine.
The gray and lifeless waters closed
And left no mark, no sign.

(This is private literature. Please save it for possible future revision.)

* * *

They shall be heard-
Though trapped beneath an empty sea,
Tombed beneath a lifeless gray
That knows not of reason-
They shall be heard.
The fiends of hell
That kiss the devil's hand.
Behind the walls and through the bars
They shall be seen.
In hollow minds
And blind, open eyes
And touchless hands
They shall be known.
In dreams of pain and tortured souls
In birth and in death In love and in hate
They shall be felt.
The fiends of hell
That rule the land of God.

* * *

"Let there be life," was God's command-
Behind the voice, the Devil's hand.
"Let there be love, to fill this earth."
And with these words, to Hell gave birth.

* * *

Monday in June

Dear Jer-

Somewhere in Brooklyn an English class meets; and somewhere on the shores of a little pond in Central Park sit I.

Around 9:30 on a warm still Spring evening, the last traces of daylight are fading away in the west - buildings are silhouettes, reflected upside-down in the still pond - a crescent moon hangs low, and stars are starting to show - on my left people are skating, and across the pond a couple laugh - I write by the light of the lamppost, on a park bench - along my walk I saw white ducks dozing on one leg, and a couple kissing in a dark corner, and a passing stranger nodded to me and said, "Good evening".

It is dark now, and quiet, and from somewhere the smell of manure is in my nostrils.

I've spoken to no one today, not a word - except to the waitress at Rikers, and the cashier at the box office of the Paris ("The Proud and the Beautiful", which didn't quite come across to me).

Here is peace, far from the business of the world (you'll get little in the way of concrete information in this letter).

I will sit here forever and ever, in the stillness and the quiet, with the air warm and the smells good.

Omar Khayam was happy with "a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou"; I am content with Central Park, and the price of carfare, a meal, and a movie.


* * *

Days go by
And life goes by
Away they fly
And who knows why
Until we die
And I'll say `bye-

A Bobbsey Twin


(Published as a column in the Polytechnic Reporter)

On a balmy March evening an almost engineer stares out the window at a sky that is almost black but still blue and a school that is dead. On a warm spring day there are sparrows playing around the Borough Hall buildings - little sparrows that are almost the very essence of pure nature, and all the maze of man's synthetic structured terrain impresses them not a bit. Overhead is the sky, always, and sometimes such a blue sky with soft white clouds that movie men capture it and people in theatres are caught up in its beauty - and thousands of people walk the streets of Brooklyn and never look up or think up at the real thing that is living over their heads. People scurry, and bury their heads in countless inconsequential "matters of consequence" and never look at the breathtaking city skyline at twilight that they buy on postcards to send their country cousins, and never look out the window at sunsets more magnificent than any they pay thousands for when captured on canvas. These, too, are life - as much deserving of man's attention as anything they press on him between the four dismal walls of that thing across the street.

People are lost because they are born into a pattern of living - a structure - that evolved and set before they arrived. Now they work, and go to school, and marry, and live the established patterns without knowing why the patterns were established. Worst of all, they have no notion of how synthetic and artificial these patterns are; they haven't even vision enough to see that some of their neighbor's patterns are radically different, or that their own patterns change with time and are but a momentary state in an evolutionary process.

They are blind to all this - being born into, and living within the boundaries of, a single pattern. They know of no other, and accept their pattern as an end, a fundamental value, a norm - the mould to which "conformity" is cast.

This is the tragedy of those who see life beyond the local pattern, those who see something more fundamental and basic in life, to which the local pattern is but a means to an end (unless, worse, the pattern has completely alienated itself from essentials).

And so these lonely men, who have grown apart, away, or beyond the pattern, grope alone for something that makes sense to themselves within the rigid environment of the pattern - and fumble, and suffer frustration, and loneliness because they are alien, because they are frail and find no resting place, because they live on the same earth with blindness, selfishness, ignorance, hypocrisy.

Sometimes they compromise - but not for long. The inner self is destined to eternal conflict.

There is no real peace - perhaps.

-The Groper

THE FAN (1957)

So there he sat - everything started and nothing finished - in a great big pile of nothing. It was awful. Just terrible. So he got up.

He got up and waded through a pile of paper to the big electric fan and switched it on. And watched. Slowly. The blades turned over slowly. Gliding to the left and up and right and down. Around. In great lazy circles. Four blades, chasing each other around, chased. Circling round and round faster now, and faster. Picking up speed in their endless race, passing again and quicker again.

Blurring. Blowing. The rushing blades picking up a hum, blowing out a breeze. Faster spinning, louder humming, harder blowing. Blurring past, no blades, all blades. Buzzing softly on the ear and buzzing on and on and on. Soft breeze, cool breeze brushing on the skin, so gentle and cool, and rippling through the hair. Little waves skipping hard and soft along the skin, like the sea.

And blowing on past, into the room. A leaf of paper quivers, and another slides over. Steadily and steadily stronger the air rushes by - and catches a sheet. Up, off the pile, and drift a bit, and fall. And another catches, and another, and two, then three, then more fly. Around and up, falling back and rising again, sailing across the room. Drifting, all of them, the whole pile caught up in eddies and currents criss-crossing the room. Catching on the bed, and slipping off to sail again; piling on the table, dropping to the chair and to the floor to start up again. Great whirls and waves of paper sailing, skipping and slapping against each other, against the wall, skidding.

White. Everywhere white, in storm raging back and around in the room. Drifts and flurries crossing and settling and piling and sailing again. Up and down and around and back and again. Forever and ever. And ever.