October 12th, 2011 / 12:00 pm

The Orange Bears by Kenneth Patchen

Just a good day for some Kenneth Patchen…


The Orange Bears

by Kenneth Patchen
The Orange bears with soft friendly eyes
Who played with me when I was ten,
Christ, before I’d left home they’d had
Their paws smashed in the rolls, their backs
Seared by hot slag, their soft trusting
Bellies kicked in, their tongues ripped
Out, and I went down through the woods
To the smelly crick with Whitman
In the Haldeman-Julius edition,
And I just sat there worrying my thumbnail
Into the cover—What did he know about
Orange bears with their coats all stunk up with soft coal
And the National Guard coming over
From Wheeling to stand in front of the millgates
With drawn bayonets jeering at the strikers?

I remember you would put daisies
On the windowsill at night and in
The morning they’d be so covered with soot
You couldn’t tell what they were anymore.

A hell of a fat chance my orange bears had!


Tags: ,


  1. Amber

      Love Kenneth Patchen, and I’ve always loved this one especially. Thanks for posting–nice to reread this.

  2. A D Jameson

      I love Kenneth Patchen, too. Thanks!

  3. Corey Zeller

      Patchen.  I always thought he was sort of looked over in a weird way.  Not forgotten, just looked over.  “Fall of the Evening Star” is still one of my favorite love poems of all time…read it as a kid at Borders. 

      Speak softly; sun going down
      Out of sight. Come near me now. Dear dying fall of wings as birds
      complain against the gathering dark Exaggerate the green blood in grass;
      the music of leaves scraping space; Multiply the stillness by one sound;
      by one syllable of your name  And all that is little is soon giant,
      all that is rare grows in common beauty To rest with my mouth on your mouth
      as somewhere a star falls And the earth takes it softly, in natural love Exactly as we take each otherand go to sleep 

  4. Corey W

      The Orange Bears is unequivocally the best poem I’ve read on HTMLgiant

  5. JW

      Nice, thanks for that.

  6. KennethPatchen

      Wow, guys, this means a lot to me. :) You’re damn right I’ve been looked over.

  7. Noah Cicero

      I drive the streets of Patchen of everyday.  Sometimes I imagine I am patchen staring at the warren courthouse.  I use the courthouse because it is probably the only building that still looks exactly the same as when he was alive and living here.  Thanks for posting Patchen 

  8. Noah Cicero

      For 50 dollars I will give a Kenneth Patchen tour.  We can sit on the banks of the mahoning river and read kenneth patchen poems outloud and talk about our feelings.