Crossings

Narrow, yet
Open,
Exposing itself to
The abandon
Of a vast sun,
My heart extended
Out of its solitude
To the vibrating
Dangerous edge
Between two bodies,
Wants a song,
A response,
A rejection, a
Flawed acceptance.
The ache is in
This crossing
Over,
This leap from the
Tongue,
And the impossibility of
Returning
To familiar skin,
The alien me
In a stranger’s bed,
The way everything has
Changed.

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The Music Stopped

The sky fell.
We danced.
The trains derailed.
We danced.
The ocean liners vanished
And the wounded sea
Never returned to port.
We danced.
We danced.
The desperadoes breached the walls.
The squares echoed with the
Savage boots of night.
The bodies smiled
From the lampposts.
And the city,
Giddy, buxom, pretty,
Hopped into bed with the sadist,
And drunk his wine,
And tweaked his beard.
We danced.
We danced
Through the flag-strangled streets,
And the flung open gates
To the terrible camps.
We danced
With blackened soles.
With shards in our heels,
We danced
And stopped believing
In God, in dreams,
In music.

Time Gets Drunk

Time whispers get me drunk.
The hours are like rooms,
I circle endlessly,
And the doors open only once,
And go nowhere.
Get me drunk, cries time,
Toss all the clocks in the woodshed,
Cuff all the outlawed watches’ hands,
Take the grandfather clock off life-support.
Sighs time,
I want dawns without sunrises,
Afternoons without teatime.
I want chaotic birdsong
To keep us awake at night,
The morning newspapers to never arrive,
The trains to wait in the station
Indefinitely.
I want confused crowds milling
In every city,
Waiting for the doors to open,
The elevators to rise,
The truant day to let them in,
Waiting until boredom dies,
Until the parks, at last, have filled with lovers.
Drunk time slurs the hours
The minutes
The beginnings and the ends.
With each bottle,
The knots in the universe unravel.

A black blackening
Stirs in the brain of the man.
It is the hatred
He bears for other brain-burdened men

Like himself.
His lips peel back comically
To reveal an impeccable row
Of bristling ships.

Dreadful sounds jam in his mouth
For a moment,
And a shudder runs through the city.
His bones rattle like rusty sabres,

His sockets eat his eyes
As he strikes his political enemy to death.

A bull is loose in the well-arranged streets,
He is knocking over the statues
Of the dead generalissimos,
He is goring the beautiful mannequins,

He is tearing open their dresses,
He is violating their navels.

The streets are now a disarray of fallen hyacinths,
And the man and the bull have
Taken over my city.
Tonight I will mourn ten thousand cats,
I will begin to bury the massacred flags.

Bust of Camille

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I am exhausted, can’t you see it,
How my eyes are so ripe with lassitude,

And you call them beautiful.

What is yet unborn wells up in me
And disturbs the symmetry of my charm.

And you say I have become so secretive,
But what could I now say?

The things that I fashion grow so frightening,

And speak on my behalf with
Distorted mouths.

And see my hand,
What you once so fondly called

The coil of my creation,
how monstrous it has grown,

And it already shapes my famed madness,
And it is as though I was no more than hand,

Brutal instrument of my genius
That would one day smother us.

But then you remember my lips,
Which have always been so childlike,

Fragile,

A sensuality wholly reserved for me alone
And waiting to break.

The Burghers of Calais

The-Burghers-of-Calais

Some with eyes of bold acceptance
Of impending horrors
That cancel others.
And this one turning back,

With open pleading mouth
To the city that
Already goes about its daily business,
And hears the hawkers in the streets,
And sees the watchmen at the wall.

And this one with grim determined cheeks,
Gazing straight ahead
At the arrayed captors,
While the condemned hour
Dances on his lips

And he almost smiles.
And at last, the key holder,
In the centre,
around whom the others
Revolve like abandoned stars,

His head bowed with the weight
Of the sacredness of his death,
While it is not despair, but
Release
That floats across his gaunt face.

That the city may be saved,
These five must go away.
And so, like one without a homeland,
Whose body is no longer chained

To anything,
His feet move toward the open field
As though they were
Of another’s volition,

And how light,
How pleasant the wet grass
As he gazes into immense distances,

Eyes filled with reverence,
Far beyond the bristling soldiers
And the walls of the surrendered city.