- Irving Layton 1912-2006
"...the first whorehouse raid I saw on De Bullion Street (when I was six) has given me an ineffaceable picture of the human situation: people laughing at the humiliation of others, maliciously enjoying their helplessness and discomfiture. Sweet, sweet human beings....A poet has his images and symbols handed to him very early in life ; his later poems are largely explorations he makes into the depths of his unconscious to unravel their meanings."
De Bullion Street
Below this broad street inverted bell jars
Hanging from wooden crucifixes drop
Tiny moons upon the shaven asphalt
Rouged whores lean lips to narrow slits: they stop
The young soldier with his bag of salt.
Under the night's carapace, the soft lanes
Are listening ears where sudden footfall
Starts a choir of echoes. A red light winks
Viciously; and the wind's occasional
Sigh lifts from the garbage pails their stinks.
Here private lust is public gain and shame;
Here Oriental and the skip jack go;
Where those bleak outposts of the virtuous
The corner mission and the walled church grow
Like haemerrhoids on the city's anus.
O reptillian street whose scaly limbs
Are crooked stairways and grocery store,
Isolate, is your dreaming half-shut eye:
Each virgin at the barricaded door
Feels your tongue-kiss like a butterfly.
© Max Layton