Baudelaire’s Albatross

Full to bursting, this café

feels like the echoing vault of a

cacophonous head. 

Ever noticed how sometimes,

the swirl of human chatter

rises to its own peculiar fever-pitch

of banal talk, tinged with urgency,

poignant, empty confessions?

I’m assailed by sudden collapse of plates

dispersing laughter,

pistons of noise firing

brittle eardrums,

words flung like cups and saucers

into incessant crowds.

I sit mute,

a disintegrating sphinx,

my mind a shattered menagerie

and flamingoes tumbling with

precious thought-chandeliers.

No match for this excited din,

and its brilliant vomited aphorisms,

I’m left hopelessly thumbing through

last year’s rule book.

I guess I’m destined for the

mountain hermitages of Han Shan

or Wu Pen,

poets, dreamers,

who stumble like Baudelaire’s

albatross in the midst of

clever people.

I’ll venture on mountain paths

trailing clouds through the

crystalline stillness

sharp as a peak,

that advances, erasing humming monks.

Far above the tempest of

tobacco spumes,

the orgasms of

guttural cities

perish on silent pulverizing


And I, perched amidst the purity of

air too thin for even a whimper,

might learn, at last, how to listen,

how to speak.

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