Distant Voices A: Thesis, 1 of 6 : Poems

This page is about my DCA thesis, and within it the poem ‘‘The Anaglyph’’,

collected in «Starlight: 150 Poems», published in 2010 by the University of Queensland Press, and in 2015 by Blazevox Books, Buffalo, USA.

The poem became part of my 2009 Doctor of Creative Arts thesis dissertation for the University of Wollongong, along with 112 other poems and a thirty-thousand-word exegesis. You may download the entire thesis here, in the widespread PDF format, free from the University of Wollongong Library. (The PDF format means that if you use Windows or Linux, you will need to download a program able to read the PDF, such as Foxit or the horrid Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader. Mac users already have such a program as a free component in their computer: it’s called ‘Preview’.)

To read the poem ‘The Anaglyph’, look for it in this file.
For ‘Notes to the poem’, look for them in this file.
[»] Elsewhere on this site, Martin Duwell reviews John Tranter: Starlight: 150 Poems; this file in John Tranter’s Main Site. “There can be little doubt that “The Anaglyph” is the dominant poem of this collection and one of Tranter’s great achievements…”

The file is here divided into six HTML pages, numbered 1 to 6, presented on this WordPress site as large and ‘responsive’ blog pages. I tried to make the Thesis into one large HTML page, but the uploading times were horrible, and the editing was problematical.

[Links: click on the bracketed guillemets below]
[«»] Thesis, Part 1 of 6 : Poems ← You are here.
[«»] Thesis, Part 2 of 6 : Exegesis 1 of 3: About the Poems
[«»] Thesis, Part 3 of 6 : Exegesis 2 of 3: Prior Projects
[«»] Thesis, Part 4 of 6 : Exegesis 3 of 3: Dream-Work
[«»] Thesis, Part 5 of 6 : 8 Appendices
[«»] Thesis, Part 6 of 6 : Bibliography
[«»] Thesis, Readers’ Reports

  Distant Voices: Tranter’s 2009 DCA Thesis:
 Part 1 of 6: Poems

The final thesis was passed with ‘highly commended’ status by the two markers, one in Australia and one in the United Kingdom. You can read excerpts from their comments here.
[ Title Page follows: ]

D I S T A N T     V O I C E S

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements
for the award of the degree
Doctor of Creative Arts
University of Wollongong
John E. Tranter, B.A. (Univ. Sydney, 1971)
Faculty of Creative Arts
School of Journalism and Creative Writing



Without John Ashbery’s lifetime of poetry this work would have no clear focus and no anchor; along with every other reader of poetry I owe him thanks for the invigorating literary nutrition his subtle and productive career has provided for us all. And I owe special thanks to Mr Ashbery for permitting me to eviscerate his poem ‘Clepsydra’, to cobble together and attach to the remains an assortment of body parts, and then to regalvanise it as my poem ‘The Anaglyph’, which begins this thesis.


John Hawke supervised this project calmly through its many twists and turns. His close knowledge of the areas I wished to work in is much broader than mine, and I greatly appreciate his tactful and generous support and encouragement throughout.


For many years Philip Mead has engaged with my poetry in an intelligent and helpful way. In particular his work on cinema, psychoanalysis, and literary and cultural strategies has been of immense benefit to me in forming my critical thinking and poetic practice in this thesis and elsewhere.


There are many others I am indebted to in many ways. I should especially like to thank Don Anderson, Alison Croggon, Margaret Harris, Catherine Kenneally, Kate Lilley, Rod Mengham and Alan Wearne.


None of this thesis could have been written without the background of my fifty-year career as a writer, and none of that would have been possible without the constant support and encouragement of my wife Lyn Tranter.


I am also grateful for the practical support provided over many of those years by the Literature Board of the Australia Council.



‘Distant Voices’ consists of two parts: a collection of poems and a thirty-thousand word exegesis.


The poems are presented in three groups.



In Vocoder, four long poems explore, in different ways, the idea of displacing the authorial ego with a kind of writing at one or two removes, through the process of translation, ventriloquy, mask or disguise.

  Speaking French


presents 101 deliberate mistranslations of some of Rimbaud’s ‘Illuminations’ and poems by Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Verlaine.

  At the Movies


is a group of narrative, discursive and reflective poems that speak about various movies and their cultural settings.


The exegesis is also presented in three parts.


In it the poet John Tranter is discussed in the third person.

  Exegesis Part 1: About the Poems


discusses the means of production and some of the theoretical implications of the poems presented in this thesis, partly in the context of Tranter’s earlier work, as the poems develop, extend and criticise some of Tranter’s earlier literary strategies.

  Exegesis Part 2: Prior projects


discusses Tranter’s forty-year career as a writer, editor, publisher, radio producer, critic and anthologist, relating these changing roles to the writing in his twenty-odd books and his other projects, and attempting to trace a developing strand of experimental practice that finds its apotheosis in the process of translation, ventriloquy, mask or disguise underlying the thesis poems.

  Exegesis Part 3: Dream-Work


looks at the three poets who have most influenced his work: Arthur Rimbaud, the Australian hoax poet ‘Ern Malley’, and the contemporary US poet John Ashbery, and also at the tripartite structure qualifying much of Tranter’s writing. Poetry is seen to occupy a liminal position in the Venn diagram where three fields overlap: dream theory, movie creation and criticism, and literary creation and criticism.

  8 Appendices


 Table of Contents

(Here I changed the layout of the Contents Pages on 15 December 2016 to make them more useful to the idle person browsing by. The page numbers given refer to the original printed Thesis. As this is on the internet, not printed, the live links given below will have to do. Click on the link to go to the poem; click on the poem title to return to this page of links.)

Epigraph, 3
Introduction 4

Poems, part 1:
Vocoder: 4 poems
The Anaglyph 8
Desmond’s Coupé 15
Five Quartets 20
Electrical Disturbance: A dramatic interlude 23

Poems, part 2: Speaking French: 101 poems

Rereading Rimbaud: 36 poems
Hotel de Ville 31
Marinara 32
Deluge 32
Ornery 33
Democracy 33
Royalties 34
Phrases 34
Pronto 35
Departure 35
The Fixer 36
Metro 36
Movements 37
Flowers 37
Horticulture 38
Anguish 38
Barbarians 39
Bottom of the Harbour 39
Dawn 40
Parade 40
Scenes 41
Sorehead 41
Eighteen Fairies 42
Childhood Music 42
Genius 43
Lives 43
Martian Movie 44
New Beauty 44
Dolls 45
Childhood 45
Brooklyn 46
Shames 46
Story 47
Tenure Track 47
Villas 48
Subcontinent Nocturne 48
Winter Maps 49

Misreading Mallarme: 25 poems
Whistle While You Work 50
Among Wild Swine in the Woods 51
Bracket Creep 51
Bomber’s Moon 52
Drinking in the Kitchen 52
Malaria 53
Digital Clock 53
Old Folk 54
Cover Art 54
Bookkeeper’s Holiday 55
Lady Mondegreen 55
At Sans Souci 56
Pride at Evening 56
The Armani Endowment 57
Sheriff of Nothing 57
Blue Moss 58
Break Some Eggs 58
Water Taxi 59
Muzzle Flash 59
Police Action 60
Smash and Grab 60
Working the Oracle 61
The Tomb of Baudelaire 61
The Tomb of Edgar Poe 62
The Tomb of Verlaine 62

Betraying Baudelaire: 20 poems
Well-equipped Men 63
The Drunk at the Lecture 64
Ghandi Dancer 64
Ben’s Diction 65
Mister Real 65
Liana 66
Down by the Station 66
Lateral Sclerosis 67
Bohemians en route 67
Good Times 68
Don Wan 68
Sharon 69
Deep Sky 69
Man Overboard 70
Grace and Florence 70
The Chevrolet 71
The Enemy 71
The Fares 72
Melting Moments 72
Venal Museum 73

Vilifying Verlaine: 20 poems
Savoury Company 74
Rhododactylos 75
The Inspector of Tides 75
No Parole 76
The Coloured Future 76
Click-clack 77
Monkey Business 77
A Throw of the Dice 78
Chinese Chequers 78
Aqueduct 79
Target Acquisition 79
Davy Jones 80
Honeymoon Hotel 80
Bridge in the Rain 81
So Long 81
Sextet 82
Asparagus and Me 82
News Item 83
Stalled Innocence 83
Hair of the Dog 84

Poems, part 3: At the Movies: 8 poems
Caliban 85
Dark Passage 86
North by Northwest 87
Shadow of a Doubt 88
Black and White 89
Boy in Mirror 90
Girl in Water 95
Paris Blues 97

[From this point, the items below are in separate HTML WordPress files.]

Exegesis, part 1: About the poems
The Anaglyph 105
Desmond’s Coupe 117
Five Quartets 121
Electrical Disturbance 123
Speaking French 127
Rimbaud’s ‘Illuminations’ 127
Arthur Rimbaud: Metropolitan 131
Metropolitan (trans. Bernard) 132
Metro 132
JE est un autre: an aside 133
At the Movies 138

Exegesis, part 2: Prior projects
Parallax, 1970 147
Red Movie, 1973 148
The Blast Area, 1974 149
The Alphabet Murders, 1976 151
Crying in Early Infancy: 100 sonnets, 1977 157
Dazed in the Ladies Lounge, 1979 159
Selected Poems, 1982 167
Gloria, 1986 168
Under Berlin, 1988 170
Mr Rubenking’s Breakdown 173
The Floor of Heaven, 1992 175
At The Florida, 1993 181
Double Six, 1995 182
Gasoline Kisses, 1997 184
Different Hands (fiction), 1998 184
Late Night Radio, 1998 187
Blackout, 2000 187
Ultra, 2001 188
Heart Print, 2001 189
The Floor of Heaven, 2000 190
Cartoon: Dan Dactyl and the Mad Jungle Doctor 190
Borrowed Voices, 2002 192
Studio Moon, 2003 193
Trio, 2003 194
Urban Myths: 210
Poems: New and Selected, 2006 194
Cartographical constraint: By Blue Ontario’s Shore 201
Editorial projects 202 The Matter of Motivation 209

Exegesis, part 3: Dream-work
Precursors 210
Triads 218
Dreams 221
The Quest 223

Appendix 1: A D Hope: ‘Australia’: 229
Appendix 2: ‘Australia Revisited’ 230
Appendix 3: John Forbes: ‘Serenade’ 232
Appendix 4: Some of the Sources for ‘Rereading Rimbaud’ 233
Appendix 5: The Trenter 235
Appendix 6: An Absolutely Extraordinary Recital 236
Appendix 7: Contour map: Kiora district 240
Appendix 8: By Blue Ontario’s Shore 241

Bibliography 243


We know that all literature is a form of disguise,
a mask, a fable, a mystery: and behind the mask
is the author.
— Leon Edel



This thesis is made up of a collection of 113 poems and an exegesis [of some thirty thousand words]. The poems are written in a mode that has become more prominent through my writing career, in which the lineaments of another art-work, usually a poem or a movie, are borrowed and transformed in some way, ranging from a simple imitative exercise to homage to satire to critique to an experimental reworking of a genre and its various examples.


The exegesis examines this use of borrowing, mask or disguise in the thesis poems, then steps back in time to explore this theme as it weaves its thread through my twenty volumes of published poetry.


Writers, like composers, learn their craft by studying the achievements of their predecessors, then by gradually varying and distancing their own work from that of others. This back-and-forth process of absorption and rejection, of learning and unlearning, is an essential part of the creative process, and one that can teach us a lot about a writer’s aims and basic preoccupations, as well as about the writer’s dynamic relationship to the tradition and materials of the craft. Harold Bloom’s writing on the ‘anxiety of influence’ has sensible things to say, and places this process in a central position.


This view of the way my writing has grown and changed has involved an analysis of the importance of three literary models in the development of my work: the contemporary American poet John Ashbery, the mid-twentieth-century Australian hoax poet ‘Ern Malley’, and the nineteenth-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud.



Ashbery (as a poet, as a set of literary tactics, and as their reification into poetry) is the main focus of the first poem, ‘The Anaglyph’, and of the fourth, ‘Electrical Disturbance’. As well, the one hundred and one poems that make up ‘Speaking French’ each contain a line or phrase from an Ashbery poem. His playful deconstructionist strategies form a general background to the thesis.

  Ern Malley


The ‘Ern Malley’ oeuvre is a particularly Australian example of collaborative writing, unconscious writing, energetic literary critique and conflict, and the strategic use of disguise. Malley is not present in this thesis, strictly speaking, but his spirit informs the thinking that went into various aspects of the work.



Rimbaud has been a long-term influence on my poetry, and on my thinking about tradition and about literary and social roles in their creative and destructive aspects. In ‘Speaking French: One hundred and one poems’ I unravel and transform — [using a computer] — poems by Rimbaud, Mallarmé, Baudelaire, and Verlaine.


Rimbaud developed a theory of the writer as a person transmuted into a visionary poet, embodied in the phrase ‘I is another [JE est un autre]’. As I discuss later, to escape the limits of the individual social being the authorial ‘I’ of the poetry has to become some other person or thing: in Rimbaud’s case the writer seeks to be transformed, through his role as a poet, into a visionary seer whose view of reality is free of the restraints of conventional religion, politics and literature. This sense of displacement and transformation is an important sub-theme of the poetry in this thesis and and also of its exegesis.

  Dreams and Movies and Poems


Another thread that runs through this text is the importance of the unconscious mind as it is expressed in dreams, and the similarity of dreams to movies, and to poems. As Buñuel said in 1953, ‘Film seems to be an involuntary imitation of dream … the nightly incursion into the unconscious begins on the screen and deep inside man.’ (Carrière 91) Dreams are masked and disguised versions of the urges that energise our psychic lives, and the processes of masking and disguise and the adoption of roles are central to the poems in the first two sections of this thesis.

  Poems About Particular Movies


The third group of poems is entirely concerned with the world of film, and the poems address particular movies directly and discursively.

  Revolutionary Developments


Another current runs across these concerns at right angles, as it were: the metamorphoses of Romanticism as its revolutionary energies flow from the Industrial, Scientific and Political revolutions of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries through Symbolism and Modernism to Postmodernism and beyond. Kate Fagan and Peter Minter note that my The Alphabet Murders (1976) is a Modernist long poem by one reading, a Postmodernist anti-epic by others, and Kate Lilley has positioned my work along a fault line that splits Modernism from Postmodernism, or perhaps in an area where their antithetical world-views overlap and clash; this conflict can be seen to energise and qualify my dealings with Ashbery, Malley and Rimbaud.

  That Tranter Person


Using the idea of mask or role in a different way — at another level, as it were — I felt that I needed to distance myself, the author of this thesis, from the poet John Tranter. It didn’t seem proper to have the poet tugging at the reader’s sleeve, justifying his errors and excesses and pointing out the various felicities of the verse.


Also I wanted the exegesis to achieve some critical distance from the iconoclastic young man who began his poetic career half a century ago, as well as from the older and — one hopes — wiser poet who quarrels and sometime agrees with him in these pages.


Hence in the exegesis I have chosen to refer to the poet John Tranter in the third person, and also to give prominent place to the views, both positive and negative, of the many critics and reviewers who have written about my work — his work, that is — over the years.

  Poems, part 1: Vocoder: 4 poems

The Anaglyph
Desmond’s Coupé
Five Quartets
Electrical Disturbance

 The Anaglyph

Hasn’t the charisma leaked away from the café crowd, and that other

Authority, the Salon des Refusés? I have forgotten much of

That old sack of enthusiasms and snake-oil recipes, the way

You have forgotten your own childhood, since

  [line number 4]

You woke up just in time to watch the adults disappear

  [ln 5]

From the world they had bequeathed us. It seems the scenery all around

Is hilly and unfarmable. Being brilliant has been reckoned

Into a procedure by some old guy, with a motto that is

More fitness, less flab. I hanker to go back to the land.

This means ruin to the culture-watchers. But the basic

  [ln 10]

Principle of my ambition is to be one excessively distracted

Entity at the mercy of the lurid, blurred and half-perceived

Motions of the Martians at the Halloween Hop. Fake? They sure are.

Summer is called Humidor here, the month of damp draughts.

The tale of my attempt to farm stubborn soil leaked from

  [ln 15]

Untruth to legend, my unlikely phase of boy-scout honesty being

Before I came to the big city. Here behind the tiny horological waterfall

Drums amplify the fun, but only at nightfall, then just for a moment

Of horrible error as I clutch the wrong person’s hand. That was true,

Only I said it wrong. Ugh. Now watch my serpentine

  [ln 20]

Gesture as I withdraw my hand, only to replace it with a congruent

Message that attempts to excuse this tactless fact,

Tearing at the sky over Twenty-second Street, but

The sky leans nonchalantly against the coop — I mean ‘co-op’ — about

As graceful as a cowboy leaning on a chicken co-op — I mean ‘coop’ — who either

  [ln 25]

Has an anger management problem or is under the influence of a form of

Some anxiety that eats at him. I’m not the fly-away

Marrying kind, nor a grumpy bachelor with a broken heart whose pieces

Are seen scattered over the range. That begs for an independent

Yet symbolic judgement from the Judge now alighting from the caboose, whose arrival

  [ln 30]

Whether timely, to the tick of a caesium atom, or tardy, has to be

Seen to be believed, like

The face of a hunter in the dim mirror killing a bear. As

Nostrils give away suppressed anger by flaring, so an argument

That is over leaves traces — nervous twitch, grimace. It

  [ln 35]

Is impossible to hide my feelings, I guess. Look ahead,

That effervescent persona and its emotional lurches and rocketings

Affected so much, and its magnum opus that was called

By another name is now the old school-teacher’s chief act of belief,

Or something very like it, gleaming in the rain. Hold up that light.

  [ln 40]

Has it shone on the tenebrous back-yards yet? Or yet admitted that

It is unable to illuminate the wasteland of wet barbecues, so much

Of its fuel has flared and lit up the landscape… this project, I admit that

It is like gutting then refurbishing a friend’s apartment. Now, are

The reply and the echo finished with? I asked a redundant question, and

  [ln 45]

That answer suffocated it, as a firmly pressed pillow

Has choked a banker, but no one knows whodunnit. That whole thing

Of returning to my sources, raking through my prototypes until

The last blueprint is found and seems just right: perhaps this is

Peace — a crowded peace — under the hot sun.

  [ln 50]

That we are afraid of it — inhabiting a reputation, the whole thing

About establishing who you genuinely were — are — I’ll admit. There

You hope your opus will be taken for legerdemain, but your effort sinks

Deeper into the mulch of history, while I adjust the mask that

Just fits more loosely every decade, and then I add up
the little

  [ln 55]

That memory leaves me, a kind of pittance, the totality

Mustered and gathered… a look of boredom in a young person’s eyes,

And all those hopes and struggles are quite lost.

Accents and dialects distort them, once again.

To have escaped from a tangle of difficulties, from

  [ln 60]

Nothing but obstructions, into a glowing absence

And then to take a deep breath and plunge into

Those crowded riverine cities, greedy for contact with ghosts that are

Precisely what we want them to be, our plans furthered,

Seeing alphabet soup spell out the aleatory message and the time,

  [ln 65]

Casting caution to the winds and the weather — sorry, welter

Of neighbours, barking dogs, traffic cops — it leads to a general confusion.

And permit me… no, commit me, please, while the cops are standing

Around chewing the fat, and pray that these

Moments miss you like a whistling arrow. Thunk! The old tapir tapered

  [ln 70]

Into the bar: a Scotsman, an Irishman, and a capybara — I’ve heard it. But

Wasn’t the story of an Eskimo inside an eviscerated bear like this?

The fact that he ‘inhabited’ the smelly bear-skin… I feel that

Neither brave feats nor stories about them can cut it.

Did not a Dandy Dinmont yap? I deliberately stayed

  [ln 75]

This way, spiritually a hunchback, drooling and gaping at the stars

That promised ashes and diamonds and nourishing food all the way,

As though clambering inside an animal was simply the reverse

Of some method of becoming notorious. My cheating heart is known

Once its modus operandi is — among the cognoscenti — firmly established.

  [ln 80]

The look of a man is the man, Buffon said, and style a condition

Of those whose reputation is a handbag and whose blindness

Was being talked about even in Paris: a troubling myopia, so

That their left and right perceptual fields, red and green, slowly separated,

Only to hitch up again, like inspiration and perspiration. Go on, shout

  [ln 85]

And be heard. Is this anaglyph what I really want? My declamatory

Nature was made to seem just a yokel act. I must admit it is

Not without a certain eau-de-cologne charm, insinuated the farmer. And yet

An invisible horror prevents me from making love to you among the previsions,

Then the post-visions I am subject to arrive, fits of

  [ln 90]

The assurance Baron Corvo had an excess of, a crowing assurance

Which tainted his career, under the blasts of air conditioning,

Whatever. There on the bank statement

At the beginning of the Age of Façadism was a catalogue of waste.

A dumb waiter brought me the tablets and a note about the projected

  [ln 95]

After-effects, should they amplify the symptoms instead of curing them,

Though Frederick Rolfe was never cured. This

Emptiness will do fine. Just pop it in a doggy bag, thanks. Did you say ‘previsions’?

Was that a mispronunciation? ‘Provisions’, maybe, held

Too close to the chest, a fake poker hand of fate. The fireworks, they

  [ln 100]

Ended with a fizzing Roman candle sound that frightened the guest who was

Intended to rescue Gertie McDowell from that dirty old man. It’s

Gesture that fills out the role, as water makes the weather.

It was stupid of me to harp on the sadness

Of that animal’s demise: I should forget about the feeling

  [ln 105]

Which resembles taxidermy at midnight on an empty highway.

A telescope brings us a soothing view of distant mountains

And all the mountain people. Who knows where they’re going?

Moving from crag to cave to avoid the night

There, which is really ghastly when it comes on.

  [ln 110]

Beside the darkness, each farmer carries his own personal

Landscape around inside his head, a ‘landscape’ being

What surrounds your idea of yourself, it’s so

Honourably framed, but presented in a Potemkin-Village spirit.

There was a vast electrical disturbance just outside
the walls.

  [ln 115]

Each time it’s different, down through the centuries

For the sake of cultural improvements they go on repeating a dream that

Continually gives out a soft fluorescent glow, it was

Like standing on the prow of a moving ferry in the morning

With the spray bursting all around

  [ln 120]

And a feeling of nausea mixed with ecstasy washing over me. In a way

The whole experience was fake, except for the scale.

Really, what do Eskimos think of giants?

Not too much, I reckon. They say they like them.

A moment later they’re saying how needlessly big
they are. But

  [ln 125]

Also they are likely to flatter them. A cloud of dust

Or whirling fragments resembling a mistral rises up ahead,

But no one understands it: the old verbal torrent

In new guise, transformed into a sheaf of falling leaves, which

Are gathered up, bound, and stuffed into a briefcase,

  [ln 130]

And it’s time for coffee and a Strega at Il Miglior Fabbro. When

Acts of killing fill nightmares and movies, only the calm

Of this bibulous routine can bring surcease. Then the shreds

Of another adventure assemble: a tour through the old college premises

Undertaken to the tune of the jig ‘From Rochester he came hence,

  [ln 135]

A writ of Cease and Desist clenched in his teeth’. Here, see this,

Like a pistol on a silver platter, it’s all yours

And it was mine once. Take it, go on. I kept it because

It had been handed down, and I had hoped it might be my insurance

Against the waves of devoted fans inefficiently

  [ln 140]

Seeking to take over the social scene and then the whole world.

The round platter, alas, has always been covered with dust,

So small it can hardly hold the pearl-handled revolver reclining on it.

Thereafter it should be passed on to other worthies, noted by

The comfort of strangers they fail to offer you,
or me, even.

  [ln 145]

Like the wily coyote, I’m no sleep-abed; I tried all

The most difficult forms, even threnodies ending with the words

‘After all’ or ‘Never mind!’ And in my fine eye-rolling frenzy I almost

Exaggerated my métier into an obligation. This,

It seemed, was the way to build the future. But it was

  [ln 150]

Not likely to allow me to escape the whirligig of voracious time.

After all, tempus fugit however we might chase it. Indeed,

All kinds of regret sprinkled my breakfast as the slant angle of

The day lit up the diner and the light began to increase

So that I was dazzled, then I heard a loud thump,
dull, heavy,

  [ln 155]

Like a polar bear falling over, and the hunter saying something

Not quite obscene, but close enough. Criminy! The way

Things fade away, les temps perdu seems to be the point

Of this rodomontade. Does a traditional verse form simply provide

A protected place for the poet to plead the case for
his vital

  [ln 160]

Concern for la vie littéraire, or is it a carapace, a palace?

And you can meditate there all summer long.

It was a little insight I had, one of the world’s smallest.

Distant requests annoy me. The Poetry Club may be ultra-sensitive

But its supine and self-serving acquiescence

  [ln 165]

To the demands of those creeps… okay, that’s in the past

And it belongs there and I promised not to whine. But oh, how

The past haunts me, its vapid fashions, the rigmaroles… they wish

But also harangue, that’s why I resent them, the ones I talk with.

And in this way my paean to non-discovery

  [ln 170]

In brittle yet oracular verse persuades us, but nevertheless

The map you provided was helpful in leading us beyond

Madness to something better: squatting in Circe’s mansion. Only

You desire us to fail — just there, perhaps, where your verbal acts

Are sentinels warning us of the slow-moving, quiet

  [ln 175]

Invasion of middle America by pod people over many years.

Be quiet — hush! — they are nearby, whispering the poem itself

In a parody of oratory. I’ll explain more plainly: the map

Of the literary world is a pantomime, and its longeurs have become

Prolongations of our prevarications on bad weather days, and also

  [ln 180]

Fine days where things seem okay but are not, those dull events

We shall banish from the Ideal Republic. Who called? No, I am

Not speaking to that shit: he just wants to be

Opposite me at the literary lunch. He got some fame recently, only

To be thrust into obscurity soon, I hope. It seems broader,

  [ln 185]

The sum total, a canal reflecting its own anagram, but will it ever

Become legible? Hidden behind a screen of rocks

And foliage, the creep quickly inhales the distant

Ether and faints, thank goodness, and what I own

I see before me shining like a dagger. Meanwhile

  [ln 190]

I am only me, a faithful shadow of my real self, and

Private doubts evaporate between the Spring and the Fall

And even this is seasonal, and I thank you

For being so patient, you could have made some other

Voluntary or involuntary gesture like sneezing
to prove your

  [ln 195]

Maturity or you could have hung and dangled from the branches

Of a tree to attract my attention a step or two away from them.

It intensifies my desire to know you, a gesture like that, to

Form an opinion of your feints, apparitions and mode of locomotion.

In this way I control the crowded avenue to the Palace of Fame, the one

  [ln 200]

Leading to a rowboat mounted in a park where I perch and think to

Myself and then jot it down, being careful to leave a blank space

That is the secret indication of Mallarmé’s abyss, a.k.a. ‘The Unknown.’

Eating ragwort is morally better than gobbling a quail tagine; the difference

Can never be explained to the obtuse. At this distance

  [ln 205]

It seemed impossible to reach the reader, Valéry murmured, then said the phrase

‘Over and over’ to himself, again and again. Meanwhile

Infant mortality was declining as aspirin consumption increased. There was

To be a meeting about aspirin and other drugs later that evening,

He was told. He read poems about killing large animals to keep awake

  [ln 210]

On the tepid waters of café society. Go to the meeting, don’t go, whatever.

‘Whose centre wobbles is bound to fail,’ the Latin motto says, and having

The progression of the equinox too much in mind brings rain

As they form a phalanx of epigones, those who come after.

Why don’t they just get used to that? They can’t be equal

  [ln 215]

Without coming before, and that’s impossible. The cup of

Contentment will never touch their lips. Ministering

To stunted talents is my fate; each day I tread that lonesome trail alone

And return at nightfall bereft and grinding my teeth at

What they dish out: similes as appliqué aperçus. They

  [ln 220]

Might as well hand in embroidery. The Force, puissant yet invisible,

Still surrounds us. Yet there is also a Dark Force

Between the cruel mandates of history and them.

It is because the greatness of art is like a snobbish relative

That we shall never agree on a strategy, and

  [ln 225]

Entertainment washes over us, leaving us ethically incomplete.

Former East German border guards know too well that that

Closes off an awful lot of options. The Moment

Of Death is dallying on Ninth Avenue, as yet uncertain of

Its intentions. I’ll just leaf through the paper until

  [ln 230]

You wake up. I’m not planning to go anywhere. You know, it

Wasn’t a small thing, to turn your back on Europe. The walls

Are turning into their own murals. Please don’t speak

Of time within the hearing of that tiny hydraulic clock you

Invented, it can be self-centred and jealous, and has now

  [ln 235]

Grown furious. Deep within its complex innards a purple jewel

Exists as a blazon, rotating slowly, saying that this

Existence is temporary, that you may lodge and idle here

Only so long as you don’t irritate the gods. Someone’s

Purpose niggles at you. Then the sunbeams flood in
at acute

  [ln 240]

Angles and frighten the other diners. I thought, then,

Of having whatever I wanted, but it seemed that a distant

Image of you chided me. My admiration is a test

Of how you might accept it: gracefully, or boorishly, or not.

You hesitate, don’t you? I hate that. Please accept this

  [ln 245]

Wooden gesture, and you’re right, the over-decorated representation

Returns whence it came, though it was easily said, and simply meant,

With nothing ulterior about it: a simple entendre. I’d like to alight

With you from the caboose on a hot dry day in a wonderful town. You

Must help the Judge measure the exact length of the shadow of

  [ln 250]

Your well-wrought urn in the centre of the town square — it is still intact;

Appreciation gives it the shine and the shadow — but just now somebody

is phoning to arrange for drinks — will you join me? — later this evening.

  [ln 253]

  Desmond’s Coupé

Desmond’s coupé is full of jam. He’s in a quandary:

a bean lance, or a dance of circumstances.

He’s eternally fond of his own naivety.

A swanky beam spells out a white

cranky tale.

  [ln 5]


Susan’s inclination was

plainly desperate.


An ailment common in Sienna

makes him think he’s dead and buried

or makes him realise he’s a bad dresser

  [ln 10]

on a plane, or in jail, but you don’t dress for jail

and people don’t wear a jacket on a plane any more.

Raise the bonds.


His three résumés — swallowed — he’s just

a shadow of his former self — fooey! — a deep
violet colour,

  [ln 15]

or an alternative he’ll just have to adapt to

by the verge of the road.


Deep beans: his aunt has a rooster.

She’s getting battier every year,

a fish in one hand, a peach in the other.

  [ln 20]


The Master of Surges,

or so we infer.


In the flames we see the communist menace —

uniquely, they’ve got the numbers, no?

But they hesitate when the corpse waves its arms.

  [ln 25]

Pluto (not Mickey) wants to play,

oh, what a nut! Chained

at the party, a name for the horse floats,

an old horse works it out,

tapping his hoof on the floor, good trick,

  [ln 30]

but then forgetting how old he is

behind the jade barrier.


These pedals take you to an agreeable horizon,

well prepared.


You old git, free meals,

  [ln 35]

a bad smell on the dratted train —

now he’s heading for the air vents

in another carriage —

that’s the spirit — actually, a jet plane

would be quite a temptation.

  [ln 40]

You could re-employ a division of passing firemen.


The secret item on the menu,

the chef’s envy, even now

is cooling on the barbecue, or so you surmise.


Look straight at the homosexual:

  [ln 45]

nerveless, not very important, yet vain,

an old Hoover in his hand.


Potato crisps

are found in the deli, useless for a téte-â-tète.

He takes a disprin and feels legless, then he

  [ln 50]


has another one, then he feels

ambiguous. His ulterior plans

are unforgettably demonic.

He feels nothing

for the empty countries, Alaska, let’s say,

  [ln 55]

home of the Inuit. This old idiot

had a chance to meet The Supremes, probably —

say, Louie, your son is some puerile hombre,

caressing a policeman and renting out a lavatory,

eating soup and getting vaguer —

  [ln 60]

a soup full of hard bones,

now he enters the aisle, bending his knee

like a bat flapping into the sea.

The old tenant reads Lowell [’s poem] against the sea,

a chance to ooze poetry —

  [ln 65]

financially speaking, that is — no, don’t —

a voile handkerchief is an illusion

as antsy as having a phantom for a guest

in the chancellery

but that won’t abolish folly

  [ln 70]

like this insinuating silence

or Dan’s squelchy high-voltage approach —

he’s simply rolling around and laughing ironically.

Ooo! — A mystery!

A precipice!

  [ln 75]

Frank Hurley!

A billion turbots! Laughter and horror

with the author Jimmy Guiffre (tenor sax),

but no junkies, please,

no fur,

  [ln 80]

and that old berk verging on the index

like so, a lonely puff of smoke at Purdue —

so far, so good,


where recounting the effluent is the talk of the minute,

and it immobilises you.

  [ln 85]


A chiffon and velour coffee-coloured sombrero

for this stiff old white man

is derisory, an opposition horse seal,

rather tropical, the sombrero, quite unmarked,

exhumed, quite conkers,

  [ln 90]

the American prince who loves the cool,

he gives a little heroic cough.


Irresistible maize container!


Par for the course, but a pretty feeble reason to be acting virile

and like a foodie, maybe the ulcers explain his puberty

  [ln 95]

or mute his loose and bossy vinaigrette

(invisible from the front)

sparkling with umbrage,

with the stature of a shadowy filet mignon

and with the torsion of a siren

  [ln 100]

impatient at squeamish ultimatums.

A rare, yes, and vertiginous debut.


Time to snaffle

a bifurcated soufflé,

thinks the old bird.

  [ln 105]


His manner is rather false.

All up, with a toilet next to the bedroom,

evaporated brooms

impose an unborn infinite state

issuing from the stars — que sera, sera —

  [ln 110]

a pyre doesn’t disadvantage the minors,

they’re indifferent to the mutants,

that is, to the number of mutants that exist

apart from those agonising, sparse

hallucinations of mutants which start when they stop

  [ln 115]

and never seem to close, apparently, with an infant.


The park elk and his profusion of expandable rarities —

see, then the chief rat is ill —

evidence that the Battle of the Somme, for one of us at least

was a poor thing, though somehow illuminating

  [ln 120]

and written up in Hansard.


Choose a pen.


A left-hand drive car with a rhythmic suspension

that levels itself, an ox and some original scum,

no more wars, a delirious sound and just one crime

  [ln 125]

fleeing without identifying Jimmy Guiffre’s true neutrality.


Rein in a memorable crisis

as you see fit.

Your venomous accomplice can view the results: nothing!

Nothing human, that is.

  [ln 130]


In lieu of an aura of elevation,

the absence of ordinary verse.


In the loo, an inferior kind of clap

is likely to disperse and conquer

those who act in a poor video.

  [ln 135]

Abruptly key the synonym.


Parson, men’s songs are fond of perdition.


A dance, in the garage full of vague parables,

and which reality is dissolved?

Except where the altitude peters out

  [ln 140]

and an Aussie’s loins are right on.


A few swans, a vector dealer and

a horse of interest —

and a quantity of signals in general sell on,

tell obliquities, part Elle’s declivities —

  [ln 145]

the furs, poems, see what theatre

a septuagenarian from the far north of Australia

see in the stars — freezing, oblique and full of suet —

pass the aunt —

a killer from Noumea —

  [ln 150]

and this vacant surface is superior

to any successive hurt.


Side-rail was meant —

done, counted, totalled information

and a veiled ant, doubts, the rolls…

  [ln 155]


brilliantly meditating before the ratter

whose pointed bum is sacred —

and all the pensioners met Des and his coupé.

  [ln 158]

  Five Quartets



All might have been speculation.

What might have been opened?

I do not inhabit the garden.

There they were dignified, invisible,

over the dead bird, in response to

  [ln 5]

the flowers that are our guests,

in the drained pool.

Dry water, bird children,

garlic and mud in the blood

dance along the sodden floor.

  [ln 10]

Below, the practical Erhebung without

elimination, its partial ecstasy,

its horror. Yet the body cannot

allow a little dim light: neither

rotation nor strained fancies

  [ln 15]

with no men. Bits of wind in unwholesome

eructation, the torpid gloomy hills of Putney,

twittering into inoperancy and the other.

Abstention from its metalled bell

carries the cling wing.

  [ln 20]



Words move the Chinese violin, while

the words between the foliage

waste a factory, or a by-pass.

There is a time for the wind to break

and to shake the field-mouse with a silent motto.

  [ln 25]

You lean against a van

and the deep village, the sultry dahlias,

wait for the early pipe.


And the little man and woman

round and round the fire

  [ln 30]

leaping through the laughter

lifting the milking and the coupling

of man and woman of dung and wrinkles.

I am here in heat, and writhing high

into grey roses filled with thunder.

  [ln 35]

The rolling cars weep and hunt the ice.

That was not very worn-out.

Poetical fashion, wrestle with poetry.

Calm and wisdom deceived us, the dead secrets

into which they turned their every moment

  [ln 40]

and shocking monsters, fancy old men,

can hope to acquire houses under the Stock Exchange.


The Directory of cold lost the funeral.

I said to the dark, the lights are hollow,

with a bold rolled train in the tube

  [ln 45]

and the conversation fades into the mental ether,

the mind is in the garden, pointing and repeating

‘there is no ecstasy!’ The wounded steel,

the fever chart, is the disease,

the dying nurse our hospital.

  [ln 50]

The millionaire ascends from feet to mental wires.

I must quake in our only drink, blood.

Trying to use a failure, because one has

shabby equipment in the mess of emotion,

and to conquer men, is no competition.

  [ln 55]

Home is older, stranger, intense.

But the old lamplight is nearly here,

with the explorers.


I think that the patient is forgotten.

Men choose the machine, but the nursery bedroom

  [ln 60]

in the winter gaslight is within us,

also, the algae and the dead men.

The sea has the water,

the groaner and the women.

Where is there an end of it?

  [ln 65]

Where is the end of the wastage?

We have to think of them,

while the money is ineffable:

we appreciate the agony of others,

covered by dead negroes.

  [ln 70]

  Electrical Disturbance: A dramatic interlude

Two voices:

A: a literary scholar.

B: a company director taking on the guise
    of a naïve young man.

A: A poem, titled ‘Oxymorons’.

Outsourcing ruins the parties concerned with language.

They are employing level parking. You are one

who pretended to go at it this year.

You listen to other opponents, said the committee,

  [ln 5]

it wants to be yours and cannot be on the supporting level —

is there — are there other things for us?

To throw them into play, play — well actually, years —

but I considered playing hooky in Perot’s third innings

when he was trying to read a recent edition of
Greek poems.

  [ln 10]

That is one of the stains — without parole, open-ended.

and before you know it, it has lots of the things that are typewriters

and he played it once more, I think… but only for two years.

Going into a new level — a different attitude —

it means roughly — it guarantees that you are his — you …

  [ln 15]

We feel as if we truly believe the required stuff,

suggesting that it will offer a train,

it comes during the reading of the jury list

with a box on its tracks, now they eliminate the table

and encourage the water pilot and his destiny,

  [ln 20]

supporting charities — such noise

that it was warm and fuzzy

(if you’re in your hair) and

they’re risking a relative amount.

Playing ring-a-rosy and once again

  [ln 25]

they have said their share, a lasting example

of the world history of humans.

They are not a singular authority,

and the worker lives in poverty and reflects.

Units are an old man in a blue shirt,

  [ln 30]

selling paint cans for a living. So

in the evening everything should show

that you can find a way to use it.

B: A poem, titled ‘What Works’.

One — I want to use what was wrong

  [ln 35]

and why I did the work of the house

where you first turned up for a day of work

on actual papers, that was for reasons of summer.

Two — So far so good as New Delhi,

and we think there has been, in the lives of people

  [ln 40]

who are very common, a way or a growth of 21,

or maybe many more below the jury,

which will bring the way he rose from one end

of the worst case of each of the notes and stripes,

strange days indeed.

  [ln 45]

Three — he returns. Our lives seem more thorough

and lower, as a woman might seem.

Blazing blocks from the literature maven,

on his way into our Senior Centre this evening,

and a list of rules for the future of the home

  [ln 50]

where his current visit is to our children:

what was wrong is in line with his words,

and he’s here. What is a story of a growing boy:

what are you guys? Do you know what has changed

his or her choice, and released documents?

  [ln 55]

And only the light of what works, works. It works.

A: A poem, titled ‘Some Trees’.

How to use these — are you

holding a joint letter?

As those things were still,

  [ln 60]

he performs, arranging a chance

to win his party’s

morning and world instantly.

I recently met with these guys to try to

close down what we had barely been doing…

  [ln 65]

something that can be hard for exploring.

We did not live in an instant, as we’re surrounded

by the silence, or a few hours silence a day,

and I was looking for his chorus of smiles.

Please have only one thing: parties, restaurants

  [ln 70]

and hotels of their own.

The Interview. Part One.

B: The Interview, part one. Can you

tell me about the ‘scrimmage’?

A: In reading that the publisher is 28, and

  [ln 75]

expects to be a woman, he got ready a new

line of scrimmage that had been used

for the annual series of younger poets.

The first ones were in hand with the new cars.

That’s all.

  [ln 80]

B: Now, to press the church of Saint Louis Blues:

one of the new rules for the event was

that one of the press would warn everybody

when he returned. Why?

A: The error rate was higher, and the defendants

  [ln 85]

were protesting that the US is the worst of all.

The code breaker of the jury is this year’s fever.

B: But the East River — sorry, the year’s fever —

that has been over for a year.

A: The firm was very large, as well as

  [ln 90]

the shame when it had to lose. That was large too.

B: What a year.

A: Well, the Server is a painting where I live in the mirror.

They have been the source for the bears and the lender,

who owns the line from the original range.

  [ln 95]

B: He is one of the U.N. and NATO people. Right?

A: I don’t have any idea.

B: Okay. Would you like to meet some new friends?

A: Well, no. For those who are very easy,

who have a certain sense of publication,

  [ln 100]

I already have friends.

B: This is the feedback to the heart of everything.

Now, what about this ‘error’?

A: I’m looking for violence, that is the error.

And a lot of parents are large and very annoying.

  [ln 105]

B: What about those so-called ‘French Fires’?

A: After the old days of riots, all of the fires were over.

B: Not Fires, Fries. And who — where —

A: Four teenage girls. One of the stores was in Paris.

B: Paris?

  [ln 110]

A: His home in the water — we were stationed there.

B (looking behind him, voice muffled): The Seine?

The report… Maybe there is no such report.

A: You have a right to finish a long way off.

This is the year two women who are used

  [ln 115]

for the current issue, who are to review the data,

are eventually to write the report together.

B: I should have mentioned that there’s a curfew

on the free-threaded analytic use of terms

which only satisfy a few people.

  [ln 120]

A: Do you mean a kind of censorship?

But the anger over yours truly…

it says in the book, and CVS violence…

(looking around): Why am I here?

B: You are available, you are the only person

  [ln 125]

along the lines of the overview of the animal,

and more powerful than ever… Now,

who was uncertain about two counts of rape?

A: The French conversation last month

was given an aggressive expansion. When

  [ln 130]

the infected meet with a long-term convalescence…

B: Really, before anything else, you should

address yourself to that end —

A: Okay, okay. A poem, ‘Thoughts of a young girl’.

The second half of their hard work

  [ln 135]

came, live, to the shores of their violence;

that was the scope of the year, and

running back to the world in which you could hardly,

an hour ago, sign the bills. Are you

still waiting for the show’s conclusion?

  [ln 140]

Most of the early lead roles are taken.

A dollar buys (or reserves) your livelihood.

We wait for your presence to show the way.

B: A poem, titled ‘Last month’.

No change of support, only stasis.

  [ln 145]

Glad the great hero is alive and well.

Things have their own way in record time.

Black people used to resolve large receipts slowly,

and I am sure something is opening its doors

and willing to sell its earnings and dollars.

  [ln 150]

H. Lawrence Powell and I would open the doors

when we visited, he has one of the properties,

it has its own level. It is your own house in the year

of the solar wind, and this is the power of the book.

More of the Interview:

  [ln 155]

A: Preheat the oven, and the garden grove is ours.

B (mid-sentence): … the interview, more of it.

If the market share falls away

from July onwards, at least

the paper has a review — The San Francisco

  [ln 160]

A (butting in): There are some of my own flaws —

B: Claws? Flaws? The road runner?

A: Steady on. The higher the level of the opening,

the more you hurry, and the life of leisure users —

say about the past four years — it’s a long

  [ln 165]

line of human sexuality. One, the first error,

then a power failure for what’s left of the year.

B: Hmmm… Flaws become ‘errors’. Three years,

filling out the history of the human heart.

A: History?

  [ln 170]

B: The one you’re with has a history, you didn’t know that?

A (calmly): Yes. (confused): Uh, no. Most of the time

I want to encourage a million hits.

The error you would have is a file on the arts,

corrupt —

  [ln 175]

B: It is where you have the power.

You must serve part of the first year.

A: Corrupt data, I mean. The report. Fine.

The more heard, the less gathered.

B (looking for a piece of paper): There is one more line…

  [ln 180]

about a college graduate you are trying to teach —

William eventually took up a lot of time, right? —

… reading the letter of your life… uh… forget it.

(laughs) Boy, the way you guys

were able to use these discoveries!

  [ln 185]

A: Well, however long the road, anyone can walk it.

The Berkeley Renaissance was really very much

a large American way of anger.

B: Berkeley? Really?

A (annoyed): Mortgages were foreclosed on a million homes!

  [ln 190]

The heavy use of work in the nation, Bertha

had some ideas about that —

B: You and Bertha, are you starting —

A (interrupting): We’re not really starting anything.

The Federal forms of their injuries

  [ln 195]

have originally been worth 800 dollars per person.

B: There was no other way of reading it?

A: Whose side are you on? The proliferation

of the green arms of interaction

has various uses: the ones you used

  [ln 200]

for being a mother, and the one you used

to get your free meals.

B: A mother? Hmmm, I think you’re right —

A: Sure… about fifty per cent of the road.

  [ln 204]

  Poems, part 2: Speaking French: 101 poems

Rereading Rimbaud: 36 poems
Misreading Mallarmé: 25 poems
Betraying Baudelaire: 20 poems
Vilifying Verlaine: 20 poems

  Rereading Rimbaud: 36 poems

  Hôtel de Ville

The kids should visit a history museum
in their senior year, to understand disgrace as
one form of Clinton’s victory. On the other hand
the European Community foreign debt gives
everybody bad dreams. So we do need to solve

  [ln 5]

the problem of students reading difficult things
that will lead them astray: why did Rimbaud
turn from socialism to capitalism? As if

it matters. He is his own consolation prize.
We’d be delighted to have his uniform.

  [ln 10]

We want to see all the modern art stuff, too.
Thank you. Press the button marked ‘monument’
and see what happens: a recorded voice says
‘I have wasted my life’, and we pay to listen.

  [ln 14]


Michelle speaks to Cleveland, but the fantasy
makes it ours: ‘The CIA did sit in, that is, sit
in their offices on this issue also —
they come on down the steps
outside the Capitol, chanting initials:

  [ln 5]

NATO the FBI most US troops — blah
blah — then it’s denial and denial.’
Marina, this should be a speech from a script

worked up in the story conference room
of your dreaming self: Don’t hide it,

  [ln 10]

your life will be on film: the entire avalanche, the whole
disaster, the cascades of shit and honey, someday
tilting in the sky over England like a Dornier —
a blast crucial one single family and now gone.

  [ln 14]


Upgrading the late edition for all US units.
So why didn’t you clear the town square?
In the thievery of my own dreams I can see
the square like a crystal showing a blurry
and refracted image of twenty people protesting.

  [ln 5]

Sure, you visited downtown Los Angeles:
it was always November there. You do not get that
on the Internet. The patrol has no qualms about

going on, and later we delivered the women
to encourage the men to get moving and get

  [ln 10]

that problem solved — it became the key
that unlocked the pain of the Soviet Union, and
today there’s a new location for the quiz shoot,
a green meadow filled with buttercups.

  [ln 14]


We did want to buy the Kennedy coach.
It is ten a.m. and you’ll get the crop,
but you are the harvest and not the reaper.
The light shone on the long war unit.
That would give me what he feared:

  [ln 5]

the CIA. One is a dish of blood. The other:
stains on the carpet, red tadpoles lisping.
Both say they have won in the palace of sound.

It is off the hook, the phone. Any home
is related to a city, and that city is bait. Now

  [ln 10]

the agents call — 17 men — that is safe to assume —
and claim that the downfall takes place on the phone.
There was no song the Nashville people liked
in a field of political and human damage.

  [ln 14]


Well, there goes the chance of an open session:
the result won’t be known until tomorrow.
So much for the tools of democracy. Elections
are an assault on the rights of the people.
Talk to the PC makers. We need cheaper

  [ln 5]

entertainment, not cheaper political displays.
They use our money to promote themselves
so they can take our money again.

To see it all, but to miss that one second
when the gun is fired… there’s an old saying:

  [ln 10]

How much water is needed to run a horse?
I’d be interested in hearing your reply.
Today your wanderings have come full circle,
and you will tell us everything you know.

  [ln 14]


We’ll make common cause with the Right,
and take that message to the Ford Foundation
who helped the CIA guy in Paris win a medal
that let him sit in on the cultural deliberations
of all those old freaks, whose virtue is really

  [ln 5]

stubbornness. The quote of the week missed me —
that is, I missed it — I just stopped by
to look in on the literary debate, cast a vote…

Democracy is what we define it to be.
Sure the Iranians voted in a government,

  [ln 10]

but those socialist shits were going to nationalise —
their oil, British oil, our oil, what the hell —
so we put in that poet guy to agitate, Bunting.
Sure, people were killed: so what?

  [ln 14]


Condiments every two weeks and he was sued blind.
No routine completed, no, don’t know a thing:
some awful fee data, not that good. At some point
Internet Explorer can ease the internecine issues.
So one night we’re watching the news: he says

  [ln 5]

the Soviet cages are what saved the civil service,
and ‘What is the issue? Money? The assault rifle?’
This is the basis for the 1982 phone conversation.

So most of Congress said Mandela’s ANC manual
was seditious, but their song was only a minute long.

  [ln 10]

It was raining in the capital. They should
reassess the true import of all those cases
though even if many of them were cool,
their share went undefended to the finish.

  [ln 14]


No joy in this one, Bob. Would you like to be
summoned for one little blot on the record,
by a marshal, you who were always in the way?
And list the indictment today, that will be
implemented tomorrow? If you do that, old friend,

  [ln 5]

the problem seems to be saying, the data
will go on the skids — it could be a fun contest
held in a field in the Boston area.

Now I don’t want you to get the idea that
finding a guitar has anything to do with it.

  [ln 10]

Just dish it up like the boss wants: though
if you deal with the CIA — Hi — I’m Bob.
Can’t talk now. Down in the park,
listening to the guitars, lots of single mothers…

  [ln 14]


As a view
of the busy sale
we see only postures
of the dream, and this one
is also your mistake

  [ln 5]

when you turn on the light
and listen to the ABC
on the pound and the dollar

or the euro
on a fix —

  [ln 10]

so much for
the public
who know it
in the wallet.

  [ln 14]

  The Fixer

Call me. The distant box is open.
It has the fix-it. In three days of using it
he just couldn’t get through
to the end of ‘log enable’.
He had a stiff drink or two in a cool bar

  [ln 5]

when the investigating court
claimed that the CIA under any other name
would be the same.

All the defendants, the whole sack of them,
they are all free to come and go as they please

  [ln 10]

through the vanilla-flavoured venetian blinds.
On the phone, deletion is the aim.
This idea is not the only visionary
thing to happen in a small novel.

  [ln 14]


Two guys from Detroit pored over the suicide letter
as its auction price rose through the $8.00 range.
A male choir that this year sang in Vietnam
is now a medical team on a training course.
No one wants an incontinent hostage.

  [ln 5]

Femina’s call for us all to share the pretty things
fell on deaf ears; so much for the taste of justice.
They can’t be bought. An investigation will not

reveal me as a donor or a smaller companion.
The promise of learning is a delusion. That’s what

  [ln 10]

befalls most of us plagiarists: our suckers
reject the disillusion that comes with the ugly truth.
One guy says the economy is in fact the city of events,
the other says ‘no one is a real actor in the film.’

  [ln 14]


The guys in the Gulf of Aden did enough,
but you know I said to kill one of those bad
men on Friday, bring the body to me later.
To call the team ‘failures’ would make this
a political stumble. The girls on Dataquest are young

  [ln 5]

and silly: girls, your heads full of boys, why
in the hot flush of being — why did you —
of all the kids in this town, why should they —

yet if I want to take you on my lap and be romantic
it’s No Way, José. If you go from the beach to

  [ln 10]

the Hotel for the Young and the Stupid, you’ll get
the idea that we don’t need more doctors, just a few
idiots to sit on the dish; this sounds fine and energetic
so they should be going out on a shaman basic poster.

  [ln 14]


Jim Gott and old money don’t mix. There is
no possibility of change. He sent flowers
to the old lady, to no avail. Then he fought
the Chinese laundry over the disputed crease
in his last clean shirt sent by UPS, the Chinaman

  [ln 5]

got a court order that he not be so called.
He makes peanuts: his thousand a year is viewed
as a decent living: you figure it out.

Old Gott was taken to court, a kind of
maze synod, that September, ornamental

  [ln 10]

cherry petals littering the streets.
Thirty-eight years later the charge sheet tells us
that he was called The Fiendish. In the distant future,
I shall be as efficient as you.

  [ln 14]


Thomas Cecil, what did you do?
The whole voyage will have to be cancelled.
A man can get what he wants
on the inside — much good did that do me.
Thomas was sued by the city

  [ln 5]

because he gave a false statement
when he came to the desert resort.
That means they’ll not nominate — that is —

because of the delay they called to say that the sea
— no, the Warsaw Pact countries mainly lack seas,

  [ln 10]

thus navies, though they have naval monuments,
the monument a monument to itself. If Greece
gives someone a permanent visa status, it means
that the Jewish faith cannot do for old Thomas.

  [ln 14]


The May frostbite is still on the land,
a statement by analogy
down by John Quinn.
We should assess this.
Single men sit through the night,

  [ln 5]

nursing a grudge and a stiff whisky,
and a beaker of wine
darker than the deepest twilight.

Flying, all share a common fear.
My initials in the sky. She’s

  [ln 10]

come here with this deal, no pay
and no exit. Kinda nice to know that,
thanks for joining in the song
at the close, four years.

  [ln 14]


In the state-house today old McAfee
told his story, and none too soon. It is cool
and dim inside, but the patio is sunny.
He is only local news in a local court, but
I was as worried as anyone. All the media

  [ln 5]

were there, barbaric on the video phones.
They’re seeing it like so: he has a free kick.
Did you say ‘What happened to the eighties?’

Are they the only ones saying this lady
made a few dents in the system,

  [ln 10]

took her doses — I see it as two doses —
and then a plea bargain for the shopping assault?
This edition paints it as a gamble on love, or a kiss
too soon, or Mondo music and a new full moon.

  [ln 14]

  Bottom of the Harbour

Maria today got a heap of stuff,
all she can use for a month.
Taylor said she should make one
for the Indian, that is, the male person
originally from the subcontinent

  [ln 5]

and since she wasn’t being the buyer
for two of them, she said no. There was
calm rapture in the way she spoke.

This had an effect on the warrior courtroom.
Do you mean that the US should give up

  [ln 10]

the Cold War tactics shown on the
Canton blankets? We use them to keep warm,
for goodness’ sake, it’s a case of being up at dawn
bottom-feeding in and around the drowned cathedral.

  [ln 14]


Jerry Matsuno will get a band together, don’t worry:
the system was breaking down, but a fix is just
a phone call away. Then they can open the case.
There are more witnesses to be called, so
keep an eye on what Jerry Marshall wants.

  [ln 5]

Really, all these criminals and junkies are the envy
of a bevy of affected socialites. That is, their manners
are affected, not their health.

The studies say they’re also obliged to slow down
every Sunday. ‘At the top of their key’ means that

  [ln 10]

for the ‘don’t feel safe’ area you should read
‘black and Latino vision’ area. Your call,
call the Davidians for your weekend closure,
and Monday a lesson on the civic union of Genesis.

  [ln 14]


The beautiful city is his only speaking song,
a song that took place in the open air,
and we also collected data based on a dream,
the presumed landscape and the dream of home.
It’s a CD of Fall songs, maybe, only

  [ln 5]

the data is in a format that might give away
the occupation of the person, and as we clambered
into the shuttle, a flashlight shone on the ticket.

So the district judge knows that I am still at large,
thanks to the informers the courts imprisoned.

  [ln 10]

They added a goal to motivate the contestants
and that’s one of the ideas they need to speed up:
the one who negotiates with NATO will always be
sad: the ideas of all the songs have always been known.

  [ln 14]


The subcommittee poses a threat.
When they say ‘the DB city’ they don’t mean
the Deutsche Bahn AG or whatever… here
the news spread like wildfire through the buildings —
Ronald, get them! Don’t shout! or give orders.

  [ln 5]

We told the customer what the customer wants.
We’ve only potted palms, and one wolf a year.
Then all the comedians disembark in San Diego.

That’s a company with a real future, though
the double stop is daunting, I agreed with them,

  [ln 10]

and I should say that the fondled sale failed
on the killed day. They even want to set up
cameras in the courtroom. We’ll all need visas,
for this is the land where hope turns to fear.

  [ln 14]


I was arrested because of that internal memo,
and ended up in a cell, then I was told to sit
with the police and the local bigwigs.
In the hushed and fast darkening room they said
someone — someone — had reduced the safety margin

  [ln 5]

on the airport risk factor, and I got the blame.
An unaltered, PA six-pack call at 6 cents a day
minus expenses, and I’m happy.

The local cop would not open the tomb of the deported —
sorry, departed — and as usual he wanted to tell me a story.

  [ln 10]

The goal is a pool of all new CC research, he said:
they need a set of three standard deviations.
A TV ad face makes comments, what would they know.
Open the tomb, and let me in.

  [ln 14]

  Eighteen Fairies

Eighteen sequential disasters this year,
that’s what happens when you plant the seed
and don’t plan how to reap the crop,
like ‘I had a coffee (plant growing ) in the shade’
and ‘I had a coffee ( … ) in the shade (of the

  [ln 5]

trees that adorn the front at Nice)’.
He sold some advertising, but his wife sold more
through the gullible mall culture of the sixties.

I am up to date. Does that sound immodest?
Well, fuck you. We had the dead eagle product

  [ln 10]

at $4.00 a hit, traffic increasing on the freeway, and
with his life written out in waves of music,
he knew he was a saint, but the sainthood, alas,
was as a false light to all the seeded day.

  [ln 14]

  Childhood Music

Its stated goal is an assault on the new music.
The norm for most women: a silence
already filled with noises. She is
the editor of a different algorithm,
and clocked on to an experiment that feeds me

  [ln 5]

over the long tradition of discourse
which lasts longer than their own phone calls.
That’s why I quit and took up writing poetry

instead. But I guess that was a mistake.
Are the blues just a warp in the DNA,

  [ln 10]

a genetic splice on the silver bullet of jazz?
At the beginning of the major slowdown
music is used to liven up the dismal matter
late at night when every gesture is cool.

  [ln 14]


Josh Elliott, be innovative, nouveau. Hey,
this is an ad that makes use of its own
matching channel as a greed altar, but
hungers are just another topic, to them,
and a decent cost analysis is still needed.

  [ln 5]

The BBC wanted to see if that moment still has
a null market, or can they kick it into life?
They only sell movies they don’t have the ending for.

For that large a show, get a couple
to fight a ban made up of forcible sodomy law.

  [ln 10]

‘ Separated at birth’ is all the formatting you need.
You know where: what tools to use, you know
what to say: we diva the couple to do a little more,
and as for shared data, forget it: see ‘soufflés, social’.

  [ln 14]


Put me on the list of local media maniacs.
I am an old man working on a dBase file,
barely tolerated, living on the margin,
and I know that all the men in the city
are there for a reason. And then the insane visual

  [ln 5]

was invented, the Enola come-on. Come on,
I can’t hear you. Take the kids to see the conditions
caused by the Vietnam War, why don’t you?

They’re not humane in Dawson City.
It seems to me that your famous design champion

  [ln 10]

is up a tree, and what effect does that have
on the practical Mister? Mama must do
what she must, shut down by the videotape marshal
as a mandate for the people of Mormon.

  [ln 14]

  Martian Movie

What to do? Nothing; just wake up to see if the units
prod the day awake, to keep this idea like a jet in a hangar.
You might be the key that all three of us need —
(and Jimmy the Basin) — need to be on call to notify
Kitty and the target — oh the arduous trade —

  [ln 5]

do the scene — of what, may I ask? —
the scene where some guy keeps keying the Martian
into frame. How? I do not know. I’m a kid and all we know

is how to create the creature, not its morals.
This was our ambition: to be small and clear and free.

  [ln 10]

I’m on proxy, that is, resting, now in the slough
where Marcelino and his pals make themselves scarce.
The navy is in town and that guy called Austin is struggling
to decode the signals. Yet the tomb riddle will be solved.

  [ln 14]

  New Beauty

Being viewed as both coward and hero
is debilitating; night after night this message
returns, and naturally you try to deceive them
in the music store, and then you want to sound like
you’re playing with a famous band, playing a song

  [ln 5]

that is to be a record of the navy’s faults.
You can depend on the City Council to do what is wrong —
the city may be Chantilly, and then again it may not.

So you pour all your resources into the battle
to get to the top of the pops with your angry music,

  [ln 10]

and force the listeners around the Pacific rim
to vote your way: most are no friends of America.
The airplane to you is that person, a star,
rising high and then falling. That’s the Catch 22.

  [ln 14]


Being viewed as a combination of beauty and ugliness
is a debilitating affliction: with a false face
and a different coat you would try to deceive them:
out of night the token emerges in the
music store, and they want to sound like something

  [ln 5]

that’s already popular and thus out of date.
Fashion has to change: that’s its essence. One day
enduring values reign, then around the Pacific rim,

an SQL battle — structured query language
pestering the database for more and better data.

  [ln 10]

Then again, you may get sacked; then where’s your
cocky prognostication? Knee-deep in bullshit, a failure
recorded over the navy’s default sonar ping on dolls
and the airplane to you is that person, not America.

  [ln 14]


Combing your hair, you don’t follow suit,
you look all blotchy on the late show, performing
for thousands of people, and indeed the team
in the studio including John Updike and a close
female friend cast doubt on the audience figures.

  [ln 5]

You’re seeing the virus and these guys
all dying in a fire-fight, but on a neighbouring island
the locals benefit from new lease of life.

The goal of the pain can get busier than all the data
in the world, the flaw in the work that we do

  [ln 10]

for state PTA president is a lack of talent.
Update the loan. The MIT Board is on the Internet
and his roommate has enough votes to win one of the best
seats in the house, still layered and glowing.

  [ln 14]


Do they need to show more, to agree to put
the data mining double digits to use?
Things get darker as we move, so go back a day:
a bang on the gong and he’s off to Brooklyn
with a call for a song set from Tony, sliding to CNN,

  [ln 5]

sun blinding him, trouble in the upper airway,
cost of sales data ballooning — he cannot operate.
It is the ‘FM in a Domain Name System’ hazard,
a haphazard collapse they can share with the boss
who already believes that we should solve it —

  [ln 10]

that must be what the publishers want —
two weeks’ extra pay, he would say that to keep me,
but I’m getting used to his lies. Sufficient unto the day
are its many small evils — Betty, comment on that, pronto.

  [ln 14]


Don’t kid me, I’m not Noah.
The corps existed in the new data —
Esprit de Corps, I mean — I mean give-away,
no way — people see the wheel
then get a phenomenal fright.

  [ln 5]

No one thought she did it — she and the Nazi salt,
baking bread in a cosy home in the Midwest.
Men appear, but they live in boxes.

Call me ‘wish of the mall’ and no,
I don’t want the Tutsi player.

  [ln 10]

Make a decision on the whole movie:
good or bad. Mary is no relation.
Kitty cat, you force the Nazi salute.
I need what? A system of stone?

  [ln 14]


The Seagate exited at the same time, telling him
to make a profit, but he found only enough
to get by. They’re holding a playboy, he is on the sofa,
unconscious. Fit the company’s last item
behind the steering wheel, then consider the eulogy

  [ln 5]

you posted on the Internet, no one
was even in jail at that time, no one holding
in the closet the nation, in the nation a house.

Today a new philosophy: and they testified
to shut down certain data pathways, not wanting

  [ln 10]

the bullet, the use of an application, so-called.
The big guy looks just like you, the DNA test
gets the nod. In the scene that you may not know,
the surgeon is on CNN and then it goes dark.

  [ln 14]

  Tenure Track

She thought she had seen all this before.
Have cards, will follow suit. You could say.
As we discussed the tenure track topic,
people were listening in, like a radio audience.
Perhaps in the last of days of my life

  [ln 5]

I’ll get to see some easier money, she said,
easier than this rigmarole, studying myths
in a manner similar to a dental student.

So this is how the department administrators
get to mess up the hiring policy, relying on

  [ln 10]

false information from the Internet
on a normal working day. They had power,
but it seems they just wanted to seem to be
a grunt soldier on a flight outta here.

  [ln 14]


In April, the sun was to be the display manager,
advancing into mountain light, the fake
mountain light in the back projection — Las Colinas:
is it that the girl’s address? When you
check the pocket book, on the night,

  [ln 5]

it’s open at a page where the Sonics appear
on a vital mission to the azure quandary
glowing under the Cleveland full moon.

They wanted an eighteen-city police commissioner.
Ratings will determine the station’s campaign

  [ln 10]

of violence — okay, call me — it only costs a dime —
in time to shut down the TV show.
You post the key to a college guy, I get off here,
the companion you can’t see, who sees everything.

  [ln 14]

  Subcontinent Nocturne

The atmosphere is breathless. People don’t care
about what the law allows you to display:
a city full of media, before we’re torn to pieces
in the Class A data stack. And who used to be
happy in a dungeon, pray tell, tied up with the

  [ln 5]

Swedish maid? Don’t believe all the FAA tells you.
The radio waves to the north of Bombay tell
the young programmers to be on a cool team,

to demand a training that gets them into the call centres
full of money. Player after player falls,

  [ln 10]

a large old domain is sold to the man in a blue suit.
But the town seems a bit tedious on the trip back
from the airport — after California, it’s a dump —
I hear the city’s soulful call — don’t leave me again.

  [ln 14]

  Winter Maps

The cascades cascaded; so far so good, and
parts of Europe reminded me of the vineyards
whose wine tasted of the forest floor.
I wrote down the names of these areas,
and the list seemed both necessary and sufficient.

  [ln 5]

The whole experience was a kind of education.
In the Northern hemisphere, the April dawn
heralded spring, but not where I come from.

Lots of ‘money’ was signed over to me
on the video shoot, just to bamboozle the

  [ln 10]

nationalised people. It wasn’t counterfeit, but
it had no exchange value, in the crucial new store.
To open an account you had to be up early, and
answer this question: Are you a man or a mug-shot?

  [ln 14]

  Misreading Mallarmé: 25 poems

  Whistle While You Work

If you whistle while you work, you can
make a living quoting Latin mottoes.
He had a quick drink before the show
and will now resume tickling the tonsils.
Out there (beyond the Black Stump) it’s more serene.

  [ln 5]

I’m a paid rule-book adviser; you had better listen —
I prefer ‘you’ in the plural. But to sit with you
for a while, that’s all I want. Oh,

someone more senior would suit you better, I see.
So it’s back to West Avenue where I used to live

  [ln 10]

in the shadow of poverty, and the role in the stage play
where the old woman is seen committing a crime.
She held a raffle for the senior team, though they
no longer had to do much to win the prize.

  [ln 14]

  Among Wild Swine in the Woods

You can also lead, if you do the song
this senior year wants done.
Clothes newly cleaned, he travelled to
Newcastle this week to do point guard duty.
It was an ideal union by the sea. Far below,

  [ln 5]

your loan for nearly half a million drifted;
now the law makes you into a zebra, an ass
with stripes. You’ll learn to handle things.

Commissioner Millan grudgingly signed the clause
that Lamont wrote out in his will. It’s true

  [ln 10]

we have not avoided our destiny. We have to
clear the air. Literature being a kind of gas,
standing by the door at the book launch was clever,
in case you needed to get out of there.

  [ln 14]

  Bracket Creep

The chief lender uses the turning of the year.
Lawford’s use of it will mean what I told you,
that they were all going into a sweet little deal
there where the law was buyable, if you
had a million — do I hear two million?

  [ln 5]

And all that lot gathered at the bar
were mourning the death of capital.
To tell the truth the air turned to smoke.

I long for a clatter of high heels
on the steps. That is, a door opening

  [ln 10]

onto the real world outside the banking sector,
fresh air, sunlight and bird calls.
I wish I had sons and also
daughters to aim at a better future.

  [ln 14]

  Bomber’s Moon

Senator from the nuclear age,
our cages are no protection
in autumn’s far country, all rusted and red.
I wonder if there is a non-nuclear future —
there on my ten-year diary there is.

  [ln 5]

Chantal thought Julia was a pain in the neck
and for all the promises of dalliance, she was.
We’re off to a party held by yours sincerely

on the ground floor; you can come, if you promise
to behave. There is a leading lady, and a hero

  [ln 10]

denounced by the mob, and it’s probable
that our elected representatives don’t give a damn.
No, I am not the son of the senator, and clearly
not meant to fall into the vat of acid.

  [ln 14]

  Drinking in the Kitchen

One man called Assad Lafontaine took a while
to recover. Whoever is this year’s ‘Mr. Immediately’
left for the notorious coast. The night is cold
and delicate and full of angels.
The governor is having some kind of fit.

  [ln 5]

And so we turn the page over to think of starting.
This is all there is. Go to Liverpool to buy a car,
or see the Polish workers leaving for Europe.

Salute the leaders of the music industry:
you could always take up the offer

  [ln 10]

to go to Tunisia to let him do as he pleased.
I got callers to say ‘The Don is on leave’.
If there turns out to be more than one caller, call
Gloucester or — if it’s obscene — call me.

  [ln 14]


‘There’s no nuclear issue,’ Avila said
belligerently. ‘Learn to live with it.’
The issue is what role would you have.
The kids were still at the jewellery store.
‘Look at yourself!’ could be a way of pointing at

  [ln 5]

vanity forever going down, the menacing shadow.
One glacier more or less doesn’t matter.
Civil defence doesn’t rate. The newer flocks

are just as false as ever. So go meekly
with your song, or warn those who were not sure

  [ln 10]

of a lifelong faith, knowing it was wrong to steal.
You have a strong lead in the electoral college.
Sickle cell anaemia won’t protect the Africans
this time. A senior tour will get malaria.

  [ln 14]

  Digital Clock

Victoria’s receding song failed to call them in.
Nor did the wild song wallet call them out.
To our workforce, your brilliance is nothing more
than knowing what important details to leave out.
Write down what dictum is needed for the bit clock

  [ln 5]

on the Milan technique, at the blaze lift-off.
A logic bomb lobbed into the research lab
will close it down for two years. Careers

were shown, that didn’t include your
delicious rock sauce. He asked Victoria

  [ln 10]

to sing again, and now you have gone quiet
like an audience that wants to be respected.
All the class crew were directed to whistle
just before interval. Now your time here is done.

  [ln 14]

  Old Folk

So the poor people promptly ordered a hamburger.
The younger brothers came from the onyx land,
the country that was in the news because of its
atrocities. Before the story came the name:
the name of Graham Vick’s Dunwoody

  [ln 5]

Housing Estate for the elderly and confused,
where stubborn mathematical theorems are solved.
So you’re not happy with the scenery around here.

A stamp could reproduce all this in detail,
down to the last autumn leaf, the odd-looking smoke
drifting from the chimney, the car idling on the drive.

  [ln 10]

The born-agains are still on the ‘don’t believe it’ routine.
Here comes the call to sit on the board of La Compagnie
australienne: it’s a local policy, so seek the arsenal.

  [ln 14]

  Cover Art

Is anyone clear about what we are supposed to do?
We were promised verdant vistas, no?
But what dismal scene is this? Lydia
heard in our remarks, a critique of her own,
or songs that could only be there for one reason,

  [ln 5]

so she said, oh dear lord, when six or more of you
are gathered, and she was offered no honour,
it’s all your fault, you shit, just listen to him!

He had someone on the 40th floor show him
how to appear in more than one movie

  [ln 10]

and we knew all season why our tour
with the big man was bound to fail, the fans
gathered in the hall and told us all, miserable since
Lydia said ‘No more Norman Rockwell tour’ and swore.

  [ln 14]

  Bookkeeper’s Holiday

On the train from Leicester I read a long
short story and from border to border
clambered through an imaginary landscape,
the weather redundant though summery.
Then I read the reports of what Markham knew

  [ln 5]

and when he knew it, and how certain receipts
were ‘lost’ by Markham, who left the firm
in a hurry. Moths climb in the flame.

Ah, subtle Emilia, what’s up? What caused
your convenient delay? One little Glasgow lesion,

  [ln 10]

and your body recycling the air. We found —
hidden in a locker — the books Markham took,
and the old law books too. Olivier found them,
but he was not to hear the slaughter, on the CD.

  [ln 14]

  Lady Mondegreen

Tea with Lady Mondegreen at one of those
classy places, candles, waitresses.
She won a dollar a month in a raffle
and on the spur of the moment banked it,
so it slowly aggregated and grew:

  [ln 5]

a bunch of digits quietly multiply
in the database as it updates annually:
checked, backed up, reified into cash.

Checking her diary — her time in Europe, well,
she needed to erase some events: one

  [ln 10]

crazy for the bottle, a pillar of waiting,
betrayal, some of the group shot, at 1:00 PM
eastern standard time. The report went to Wheeler,
the defrocked monk who was told to lay down the law.

  [ln 14]

  At Sans Souci

One morning he appeared at breakfast,
saying he wanted to be a young romantic poet.
Success at that is little more than dust.
Curator of his own emotions, embalming
his memories while they were still readable,

  [ln 5]

scribbling, typing, buying and selling real estate.
‘All I want is a quiet talk,’ she said,
and she sat smoothing her frock on her thighs.

‘Displacement gesture’, the textbook said, starlings
grooming their feathers. Sister Louise will see you

  [ln 10]

now: don’t you want the massage? Louise wanted
more from the so-called poet, more emotional salt,
but he was all gesture, just a reputation,
empty hands and a ‘mouth full of much obliged.’

  [ln 14]

  Pride at Evening

All your home improvements may well
turn to vapour in the evening as the money drains
out of the market. You can sue, and you may win,
but you’ll wait a long time for the money.
Trouble, that was something between her legs

  [ln 5]

and it sure made a mess of the accounts.
She and ‘Mr. Rayban’ had that ‘conversation’
then it broke up. Debt to assets, I mean.

You may recall that we were the life of the bourse,
but not any longer. It never had a soul before.

  [ln 10]

Failure is one domain to wish well behind you.
Kindness is not necessary at the plant, and not
in the office, but when you look at the wreck
around you, maybe we were mistaken all along.

  [ln 14]

  The Armani Endowment

You were born in an inauspicious year
when theory was on the rise in seminar rooms,
when old hands sought to reassure their colleagues.
They went quietly, in the end, then
didn’t pollution arrive with the new song

  [ln 5]

and the Armani money and a young professor?
The great careers are like that, he said:
a slow burst, then a slowly growing flame.

His secretary confessed that she had met
‘Graham’ at the races, she’d put a thousand dollars

  [ln 10]

on ‘Corn Lordship’ and lost the lot, was this
love? It was enslavement, of a poor kind,
like a glass cross on a cheap necklace.
Live off it, Professor, and don’t crack up.

  [ln 14]

  Sheriff of Nothing

In his remote province his work was valued.
That lifted his spirits, his biographer notes
in a margin. Unsupported by reason’s enigma
he wanted more but he didn’t get it. Drat.
Sitting in a darkened room, typing, for decades —

  [ln 5]

a consultant of nothing, doing time. And
the servants are glad to be enslaved, especially
the worn-out wife, carving the lamb for dinner.

His biographer was not likely to reveal
what his research turned up: infidelities,

  [ln 10]

greed, cruelties large and small. Now
he’s writing the life of a Eurasian beauty
who lives beyond the law with a scrum of men.
Her daughter will do well in New Jersey.

  [ln 14]

  Blue Moss

All Sally could be convicted of is a love
of luxury, and who could blame her?
Years in a camp, among the torturers
and the tortured. Too many cigarettes.
No way is clear for escape. Eat your dinner,

  [ln 5]

or there won’t be any more, her mother said.
Hide in the toilet or die for two sacks of coal.
There is no use trying to escape.

Don’t fight over what to drink, just drink.
All year long we’re poor, then we’re middle-aged.

  [ln 10]

Finally a dawn crowded with American soldiers.
The dialogue was either a blip or a blunder.
The long clear arm of golden liquid turned into
spray, and the spray is a blue moss killer.

  [ln 14]

  Break Some Eggs

A butler enters with a letter on a tray. Come in,
sit down on the sofa. It’s always there.
The young woman, she belonged to no one,
she said, though she was married, strictly speaking.
It’s not a good sign for the women on the jury

  [ln 5]

to laugh. That shows no respect
for the horrible murderer. Though perhaps
he’s just a bystander, or a rodeo judge.

Think of the huge debt your adventures last year
incurred while you were grovelling on your knees,

  [ln 10]

humiliating yourself in front of a female junkie.
In every pensioner there’s a child crying
to be taken home. Nearly there, you said;
we’re doing well in Omelette Park.

  [ln 14]

  Water Taxi

Our Allen is a guy with a lot of tone, e.g.
the 2008 Passat just wasn’t classy enough.
The man who made the same mistake twice
is exonerated, he says. Call Saul, he’ll affirm that.
But instead you sepulchre an offer for lunch,

  [ln 5]

and go to the sitting room in your uncle’s house
where poor Mister $9.00 lives at plant level.
The janitor’s union marks his limits.

Ready to alter the suit? Lucky for him
the doctor cured his problem. Yes,

  [ln 10]

he could be busy on a water taxi, he could
lobby the unemployed. His services were listed
on a toilet door in some gay bar in Cherbourg,
that’s where he made his profits, and lots of them.

  [ln 14]

  Muzzle Flash

Not able to make a clean break,
Jed hung around the town for months,
so it was said he had mammal delirium.
His wife and I had a near-miss one time
when he came rocketing out of the alley

  [ln 5]

at the back of the movie palace, blam! glimpse
of a gun muzzle flash, well, ‘palace’ gives the wrong
idea. You might as well ask a hog what is happening.

He would keep calling around for the letters
he wrote and gave to some youngster

  [ln 10]

to deliver. He would tremble in a bar,
or just hover above Munk Park, half alive.
The scene is a renowned beauty spot named
in honour of a Doctor Munk from Hong Kong.

  [ln 14]

  Police Action

The years of ample pay are denied
by Old Tom. No one is willing, right now, to recall
the heights he scrambled to, trampling others.
And he was upset that his son hated him.
Oh well, the more you suffer, the stronger you are,

  [ln 5]

opined Liz, from behind a bottle of gin.
The old man really is something else, no?
What are the differences between these two

photographs? One is red, one is blue. And the face
resembled yours, the one reflected in the water.

  [ln 10]

Since the anguish of staff turnover bothers you,
take a holiday. While you’re gone we’ll
finish off the labour unions. In the cool dark outside,
whistling from the police took the form of sleep.

  [ln 14]

  Smash and Grab

Sorry to keep you waiting, Ward. We have given
this whole business a great deal of thought.
It seems highly unlikely that you will ever
understand the depth of our grief on this issue.
It feels like post-natal depression, but with an edge.

  [ln 5]

Do you grasp that, dimly? But before we
put the knife in, do you have something more
to say for yourself? In your new script

a crazy film director follows a civil war, right?
And the script is riddled with confusion,

  [ln 10]

like the so-called fog of war. Slowing down
opens out new avenues, and you will have time
for your silly hobbies — your Alamo, your
Waterloo — and you may yet learn to please.

  [ln 14]

  Working the Oracle

Well, said the senator, after a little soul-searching,
this week let’s do local cuisine, dinner
at the Red Rose Café. No more theatre.
No more news from home while you’re
deep in the crucible of capital: longhorn nausea.

  [ln 5]

The whole class took the offshore tours package
like some pocket history of the world, then
Holly won a dazzling victory over Carole Lore.

She now had the measure of the A Class:
it was due to what she learned in Vera Cruz.

  [ln 10]

From what the girl at the door said, Holly’s
the courtier next in line, so select which senior
dinner companion you want, and listen:
he’ll show you how to lose, or how to win.

  [ln 14]

  The Tomb of Baudelaire

The governess did it; it was her mission.
Did the commissioner think she was beautiful?
It was just one woman, as cold as marble.
She went through what Mandela went through.
Sure, she had allure, she nodded and winked,

  [ln 5]

and in the end she received justice. It did nothing
to improve things. What can you do
with what is still an all-rural economy ?

Walsh said he would grant legal aid
but only for 14 weeks. Rick Thompson

  [ln 10]

was also bringing a gift of some kind.
We have moved on a little ahead of them.
On the last yards to the prison that song
was still within her, grazing, complete.

  [ln 14]

  The Tomb of Edgar Poe

The mail is on holiday, my dear, but I shall apply
an ornate version of your name to the envelope.
The letter inside says that a famous poet
fetched you from Liverpool to London for some
disorderly conduct, the door locked and someone

  [ln 5]

in there fornicating, the linoleum floor
the scene of a historic union. Recalling
all you explained about how to kill a man

with a folded newspaper or a sharpened pencil,
it really dawned on me what a shit you were,

  [ln 10]

how one minute you see the fake shop-front
of the spy outfit, and then you don’t, and in this
training pit leased out to the interrogation schools
the whole business starts to frighten even you.

  [ln 14]

  The Tomb of Verlaine

Like a first-aid kit no one ever uses, here’s
a list of the so-called ‘non-executive’ directors.
With the terrorists in Oman, that offer
is soon enough reneged on. Claudia,
renew your governors; they were issued

  [ln 5]

at no risk to you and your CD-ROM.
If you fall in line behind me, I’ll tell you
the only place in New York that is benign.

It’s a good idea not to be the last gorilla:
see the others eating greedily from the trough.

  [ln 10]

She’s the mark doll, and he showed her
how to give the knuckle-ball salute
to the Lords of the North, owners of that villa
in the countryside, planning a gruelling test.

  [ln 14]

  Betraying Baudelaire: 20 poems

  Well-equipped Men

Lately I’ve been looking at old-fashioned plaids.
I’m sure I deserve a beautiful suit. Call me,
before the Hong Kong tailor leaves town.
I hear the songs popular in the Falklands,
yet I shall never return to the past, that attic ,

  [ln 5]

nor bid for the tawdry items that were on offer
from the poorest chamber-pot to the glittering jewel,
oh God, if we had been in clever Cleveland —

I would have voted for a brilliant uniform
in a silent room and a loaded sawn-off shotgun,

  [ln 10]

sawn in half for a leading role in the documentary
about the muscley brothers in the rusting truck
on target for the abortion clinic, the news story
inflamed them and no one is responsible.

  [ln 14]

  The Drunk at the Lecture

We would have lost a nuclear war
if one had happened, but I was busy
paying off my darling’s credit cards, and
I wouldn’t have noticed. The news bleeds
from one side of this great continent

  [ln 5]

to the other. Drab Gelman, that was his name.
He was often more formal than one needed to be.
Is that a sign of some deep inferiority?

When things went wrong he bounced back.
Everybody wondered who the new arrival was,

  [ln 10]

but he was just the old arrival in a suit, speaking
English well and Italian badly, the lingo of Leslie
the Offender. Laughing, I maintain her in the style
to which she would like to become accustomed.

  [ln 14]

  Ghandi Dancer

I’ve done all I can to clear them all
of suspicion. Now look at the movie, the more it
strives to be clean and cruel, the more it leans
towards the wistful, which is a kind of lie,
then the work is redeemed by the song at the end

  [ln 5]

and the senior kids can relax. Is it November
already? How time flies. Now, winter snow, and
back to the forties, when things were real.

Sincerely, I was silent when I was obliged to be.
It was a near miss where their animal natures

  [ln 10]

were concerned. A few more musical numbers
and the plan will sell itself: studying English
at Dundee for the honour of it, not for the hopes
of Donna Ménagerie wanting more shop-floor space.

  [ln 14]

  Ben’s Diction

Ben was a problem, grunting and babbling. Graham’s
oratory was overwhelming. Between these extremes
others muddle through: a miracle of salesmen,
speaking fluently like bank managers.
He glared at his bête noir, the armed Kinane,

  [ln 10]

he owning the right to lawnmower the conference,
while you, with your clearer view (view: special),
won’t even stick with their EEC motives.

While all we know is serious harmful talk
which of course grew ever more awful — is that a

  [ln 10]

mixed blessing, or a fatal risk? The demand
was far beyond what L’Enfant could do to satisfy it,
for lifting them all up to the speaking occasion was
too much for the boy. We lunched at La Jetterai.

  [ln 14]

  Mister Real

It was known that he might come and dive
into the blow zone of the high school formal;
he had an inner name for their labels
and their girlish innuendoes, for he knew
nothing can bring a child undone more quickly

  [ln 5]

that the crash into adulthood via the glands
and a bottle of sugared bourbon and fizz.
The ambrosia had an awful lot to do that night,

for the kids were faded in the precise moment
of bursting into bloom. A few more years

  [ln 10]

and that cute blonde will be a harassed mother,
wanting magic English, a civil hello from Mr. Real
from Lincolnshire, an end to the slanging matches,
and a private income to be spent only on champagne.

  [ln 14]


The constellations are rising in perfect order.
If you want a future, make a wish now.
Don’t long to be a secure monster;
bring the other near, and listen. He has
something to say to you. If you turn away,

  [ln 5]

more water flows under the bridge,
and it is your fault, stupid. That one
is a real handful, a Sherman Tank.

Despite his position, in the American lingo
he is lower than a pig in mud, and a minor criminal,

  [ln 10]

and a sordid creep as well. Choose one of the songs
that had hung around the fringes of the hit parade
from the Time of Methuselah: the Lithuanian dirge
that says the singer is known as Donna Karan.

  [ln 14]

  Down by the Station

He knew he had to find a meal ticket.
The last racket was a turkey. Then the scene
changed, but intermittently as through dark mist
and he found that he had become fashionable.
He travelled up to his old college. So there he was,

  [ln 5]

week-long, the honouree and his gadget,
a shoulder holster with a spring release.
He should have met Leonard Woolf first thing

this morning at the station, but he was drunk
and one of the servants had to do it. Last month

  [ln 10]

he placed the folded bribe in the blue envelope
and dabbed the back with a little honey
like a seal or a kiss. Now his filibuster accent
is on the evening news in the Year of the Dog.

  [ln 14]

  Lateral Sclerosis

Small loans are the ruin of the older folk in
Country Antrim, but in nearby Muckamore
they’re laughing. Mr. Sillars went over them
carefully — we all want that reporter off-limits —
and the letter he provided for a signing-on fee

  [ln 5]

seemed valid. Getting the focus right is hard:
thirty dollars on the one hand, one billion euros
on the other: one hungry family is a tragedy,

a million a statistic. This information is useless.
I want to go back, out of the bad stories.

  [ln 10]

Be sure to include some of the rebels in the army.
And carry a gun. If they can put up with their comrades
their mournful future will take on a classical look,
like a military history getting ready to be recorded.

  [ln 14]

  Bohemians en route

More people, less room. This motel sure has
a prickly atmosphere. The storm subsided;
the dwarf led you to the end of a street.
Her rehearsal of fear and alarm is an act,
learned beautifully in London back in the

  [ln 5]

fifties. Can we go back there, please?
Love for the cute animal is contagious.
One also has the infants to think about

as we circle around the small museum
which is really a 3-D colour diapositive

  [ln 10]

of the usual Mexican tourist trap, including
blue margaritas: sugar and salt on the rim
of a glass of hooch on the slippery table, and now
I am a two-man woman on the run.

  [ln 14]

  Good Times

This is a great time for theology. Satan
is everywhere, which makes you optimistic.
A good opponent stirs debate. But if so,
she with her loud ‘kill the money’ rant
speaks more harshly than we need.

  [ln 5]

The soul has to stay where it is, where
the janitor hoovers a new home for the killer —
dial 911, quickly! Unless you want a year of suffering

from former Mafia thugs in Sicily where the
‘pleure similar douceur’ is kept for the tourists,

  [ln 10]

more than half of whom are full of drink,
calm and voluptuous as the poem says, where
calm is the effect of severe brain trauma and
very little tantalises the inner child.

  [ln 14]

  Don Wan

A glass of champagne for luck and down you go,
under the wave, past the has-been losers
and someone called Monty: they are you,
in the mirror, at the end of another weary year.
You can’t be blamed for giving up, when no one

  [ln 5]

comes to dinner — or she’s the wrong one,
stumbling in through the hot-house full of
dying plants, armoured, half-alive and calm.

The more we think we feel, the more we resemble
the shabby poet Nadir Longley in his long decline,

  [ln 10]

cadging drinks at dusk on the boardwalk. For him,
to abandon art would have made nonsense
of his long struggle. Thus there is no way
out of the problem of pathos vs. experience.

  [ln 14]


Sharon is one of those who live for the moment,
a banquette piled high with sexy books.
Sharon won the Preakness Prize, winner take all,
leaving her alone in a single room.
The year to year bonus came in advance

  [ln 5]

for Sharon and one Michelle-Ange, who has
long been her wife, more or less, always
late for work, still singing in the shower recess.

Some friends of Sharon are as luminous as theory,
in the form of morsels of learning doled out,

  [ln 10]

and there are four envelopes and just one issue
to wrestle with. She says ‘I feel the carousel
starting slowly and going faster and faster!’
We are gone down into the land of the officials.

  [ln 14]

  Deep Sky

In the hut by the tropical beach family values
are a stumbling block, and the lithe boys
leave them at home for the sake of the income
from the dirty old man who pays them to mix
his paints and just a little more, a sacrifice

  [ln 5]

of honour. Now we really know it all happened
by chance. Arriving late from the Montreux
Jazz Festival is one of the sly well-informed.

What cultural roost there is in this country
is ruled by schoolteachers and journalists,

  [ln 10]

Patrick White said. True; far away in Sydney
there had never been a cultural elite, and no
Sir Norman Hartnell and his hats and frocks.
Talent? It’s relative. Sexual pleasure is the absolute.

  [ln 14]

  Man Overboard

She got an ormolu cooler-cover from her daughter
and she only turned seventy on Monday.
The weather is warmer near the landmarks.
Was your name on the honours list? No,
I missed out again. So did Mark Lamarr,

  [ln 5]

if that’s any consolation. If there is a cure
I’ll make the journey, up in the discreet lift
to the secret clinic; if not, not. Okay?

Four officers from the forum are here to see you,
madam. It’s about the mail-order bride that

  [ln 10]

Mark Hall married, and the visa problem;
it is like watching a movie of a nightmare.
Working for a dollar an hour gets her
a green card and more useless literature.

  [ln 14]

  Grace and Florence

When he’s finished killing the East German
agent, ask him to report to the boss.
What exactly are those marks on the walls? Later
he came from all four corners of the future:
it was a conspiracy of right-handed notions.

  [ln 5]

We have been expecting you, Mister Bond —
we hope you have enjoyed the onshore breezes,
and the 3-D memory laugh behind the pool.

Sort through the list of Stasi agents; one of them
is highly-placed in your office. No more will cygnets

  [ln 10]

lap the pond. You met Ms Lamont? She’s on her
former awful downward spiral, don’t ask.
It’s the mental inhaler again, while her
inflamed on-and-off romance becomes familiar.

  [ln 14]

  The Chevrolet

He sold the car, therefore more hammer for him,
less for an inference in some back room
where he had been few feet from that brain,
convinced that the story was coming to a close.
He had an inside track with the mayor, or

  [ln 5]

so he said, knowing the mayor was full of anguish.
Wilson was the art-form minister, and he
and the four unions were soon infamous.

There were new reasons every year in the long
phrases from the sister of mercy, drawing her home

  [ln 10]

for one more winter sun on the frosty conifers.
Go to the London dungeon of the civil war
period — you will not be immune; the mayor
knows how to do top listening: stop listening.

  [ln 14]

  The Enemy

If marginal calls are made, the stock market
won’t be able to handle it. It’s less trouble
for them to enable someone to fix it, than
for them to fix it. You can tell the top brass:
they have a flower in the buttonhole.

  [ln 5]

A lovely pale blue check shirt, flax, linen.
And a kiss for the informer in your lap,
and for the boss, a stiff drink or two.

We are paying to stay for a while in your place —
is that okay? We’ll get a cleaner.

  [ln 10]

She smoked heavily: one lung less for her,
and she’s lucky to survive the operation.
King of the hill, for what that’s worth. This
was mine, and I let it slip through my fingers.

  [ln 14]

  The Fares

The Consul fell into the role of governor
of foreigners all year long, and therefore
looked normal enough on the senior news.
No one knew he carried a gun, a Beretta.
His sister embezzled four million British pounds

  [ln 5]

skimming the fares, and no one suffered, she said,
as it was a victimless crime. After they left,
the long war began in the distant provinces

which was good news for England, or so
the Consul said. His lawyer made sure

  [ln 10]

he had soap and hot water in the cell. To survive
you need to play a very clever game, no?
Rooted in twilight, dreaming, a skein of traffic
made up that melancholy caravan.

  [ln 14]

  Melting Moments

If you and that creep come in late for class
don’t apologise, please. There’s no point.
There never is. Arm in arm
with the nuclear killer from year one,
you think you’re immortal. For more years,

  [ln 5]

it seemed, than an idealist has had
hot dinners, we sat watching the cute
New Zealander, one hand on her stomach

and the other holding a carving knife, although
that too is something that must be owned,
together with the rest of the ugly drama.

  [ln 10]

On Friday at dawn Mêler will be there, full of
love for her and her song, and the envelope
full of powder, the reason for her lover’s ennui.

  [ln 14]

  Venal Museum

Ask the foreman in — the jury’s verdict
is incomprehensible. Were you one of them?
Those nay-sayers? They are often the worst:
claiming to do good, they do the devil’s work.
Thank you for the enlargement; it helped.

  [ln 5]

So each found himself caught in a net.
Now we have a fair idea the killer was you.
The camera reaches out and takes your soul.

But the police have been amassing photographs
since the mid-nineteenth century. What do they

  [ln 10]

want with them? The images live in the dark,
and no one ever sees them, like a data stack
on a local area network on the far shore,
detached, corrupted, and badly normalised. [14]

  Vilifying Verlaine: 20 poems

  Savoury Company

If the champagne sellers all know — and
they should have been listening, no? —
that one diplomat was on loan, and the other
was mired in the double ethics thing, why,
here are the spent bullets from his gun

  [ln 5]

that were unplaced in the mall, and now
made available to whatever strolling mister,
any foreign news desk, or the Polish police.

And here’s the man who informed on him,
brimming with useless apologies and bags of those

  [ln 10]

Don Walsall salt crystals, that were once stacked
in the freezer and now spill down the sidewalk,
the thing we always forget to put in, despite
rigorous testing from the class-mother.

  [ln 14]


If the others hear you offering Maureen Meehan
use of the new fund and a free trip to Europe
you’ll see sheer nastiness and doldrums unravel,
with a promise of a long kill from one you will not
be able to order about, as you used to do in the old days,

  [ln 5]

when a smile and a frown ruled the city
and the Rum Corps celebrated their long history
as numbers men, enforcers and happy pensioners.

The rest I am not so sure about: which video fan
stalked and killed the movie star, and which user

  [ln 10]

is the insurer who has to pay for it? Deliver
more stuff on Corfu. I’m sure you won’t be needing
the cleanup from the sea. With the choir’s agreement,
tomorrow you’ll be walking in a white park.

  [ln 14]

  The Inspector of Tides

I don’t know who my friends are any more.
The orchestra ganged up on the conductor
and forced him to accept the union deal, which
presented this major movement as a firm digression.
Musical, maybe, but the lower classes soon

  [ln 5]

put in the knife. A raise was given for workers
who are cleaner than the managers. Good luck.
And a young man had gone before his father

who was up in front, sure that this film will raise
your home repayments, and will have a firm

  [ln 10]

Nissan gift voucher on the plan, the car plan,
the plan that was for love of country and those
who feared failing ledgers and accounts before dawn,
but the Master of Tides will have the answer.

  [ln 14]

  No Parole

With that lot of tough-guy senior citizens it was
the Town of the Land Rovers. Men have a mystique
of their own, like women, but more mystical.
All the great religious madmen were mad men.
You call this a holiday? On the one hand,

  [ln 5]

the Romanian police, but then the local Mafia
are more gruesome. Is Pakistan any better?
If the Maori song disco dancing planner, she said,

is on the train to Lahore, then I’m outta here.
She had been the script girl on a movie that won

  [ln 10]

all this year’s awards. We strolled out of the movie
into the glare and noise of the street and she
started arguing about some Sondheim musical,
this event rounding the corner.

  [ln 14]

  The Coloured Future

Left to their own devices they’re has-been nobodies,
but when they’re called, they’re special. So they think.
Too bad they didn’t ask my advice. It turns bitter
when the shit hits the fan and they’re no longer news.
Heaven has no rage like children who are born

  [ln 5]

too late to a couple of homeless people, they
can kiss the idea of promotion good-bye. What causes
moonlight? Ask the year’s top diplomat, Mister Shankar,

laughing alone in the top floor penthouse
high above the corporate maelstrom, who orders

  [ln 10]

all the rituals Colonel Bach instituted to be struck out
and replaced by one woman who wears a dress too tight
on all fours on the grass of the Executive Putting Green
while her children at home review their budding careers.

  [ln 14]


Whoever has seen a man killed in a room —
block it out now, and take this minimal version
of the new mental repair option and use it.
Promotion? An upward move should route you
closer to the warm ocean waters off New Northshore,

  [ln 5]

where you can float or walk through my own clan
of mystical readers, or dream of rescue, paddling,
red stretching far out to the horizon.

Old Tom retired and three of the others failed.
The unlawful leader bombed Iraq, who shall not rule

  [ln 10]

as that victor. The plans concealed in a golf ball
will permit the fifth column to go home.
Yes, the victor did praise Yossi Ben Barbour,
hero of the battle of Bull Rock Creek.

  [ln 14]

  Monkey Business

I think we have a buyer for the Mall. Ask the boy
to take the other children down to the Cages and play —
oh, play Taunt the Mandrill. Bob wanted a hyena coach
to train the creatures to be usable patrol dogs.
We had an excess. The results are not lost on Bob,

  [ln 5]

who will call room service and not pay the bill.
Signs of rot and corruption are everywhere. His wife
hits the right note so that Princess Taekwando

combined with the Rush Limbaugh of oral argument —
read the 300-pound woman warrior, madly drinking —

  [ln 10]

can fall through the floor and still be the living
soul of the party, like a single cell within the worksheet
that has the code to cancel the other calculations
so that the sale of Fallbrook Mall collapses.

  [ln 14]

  A Throw of the Dice

Margaret Bowman, you will see an unwelcome vision
of a pile of junk food: you will seek out a fortune teller,
this being the year of the high-school formal
for the kindergarten brats. Then you will
travel over the great water, and at the climax

  [ln 5]

of a personal medical disaster meet
with a racial bigot and after sharing lots of
unsatisfactory meals, have an affair.

You are on track to create a novel of regret
for what you did and didn’t do; there are no

  [ln 10]

rewards in this world for pissing your life away.
Despite the problems with traditional rock and roll
in the days when the ballroom held very few men,
you mastered the Labomba to no real effect.

  [ln 14]

  Chinese Chequers

Catholics are lucky: people pray for them.
The watt bulb awareness of all your computers
added together will compile a loose description
of your fate, and the nuns will sit and read it.
You will pull the issue from a pool of hundreds —

  [ln 5]

the most remarkable, and also the worst — and present it
to the youngster who says that the cinema fumble
was outside the normal range, and with a bigger thrill.

A sketch of your life would look like a mirror
held up to your future, where the good times

  [ln 10]

written backwards end nowhere. Don’t they anyway?
Yet you are the reward rejected by that career.
From where I sit I can see hundreds of freight cars.
You will find, in that vista, all you could have been.

  [ln 14]


The sole storm of Autumn stirred the muck.
Some time you must tell me of your intentions.
All races that are not fixed will play like this move,
like Schultz’s insistence that the horse was not a fake.
Now the patient listener uses the upper deck of an era

  [ln 5]

to spot the cheats through binoculars, some kind of cop.
In her role as an innocent, little Miss Nicole Milburn
put the money on for her mother Tilly the Killer.

The fact that you are the one who owns the horse
and fails to keep your one eye on the ball won’t

  [ln 10]

impress the judge, said Officer Derek Reasoner.
He had a script from ‘The Bulldog’ to work through:
‘You should have played the knuckle-ball scenario
and offered a tip to the gentlemen in the bullpen.’

  [ln 14]

  Target Acquisition

Visit a third of the mobile phone users
and see what they say: gibberish, mostly.
On May 6 Lunene and her lover in Belgrade
will marvel at the horrible thing, the bombardier’s
additional one-minute slot to drop rockets

  [ln 5]

on the run-through; this will bump him into madness
but that will be unfair, you see that the more innocent man
that he really is will reverse the Bergman film horror.

Miss Montlake will cut her class. While input from
those madmen would help, a drink of citrus

  [ln 10]

plus use of the medical centre in the mall erases it all,
why, the answer is right there: the rubble creeps
own weapons, and we were the dumb old fucks —
pass me that box of gin, will you?

  [ln 14]

  Davy Jones

You’re not so virtuous, Jim. Edgar Hoover
has a grainy photo you should see: some figure
in fishnet stockings, a guy, fer crissakes! He says
there’s something about the turn of the ankle…
all else is shadow. And way beyond

  [ln 5]

the reach of the law a diminutive woman —
Barbie and the Musketeers — gently pushes open
a security door, a flashlight held in her teeth.

The Senate deleted the accusations from her file.
Is that John Paul who enters silently behind her?

  [ln 10]

… as though the story could advance its pawns.
In your filing cabinet they found a pencilled note,
a pair of stockings… would that connect you to her?
Two pirates lower the flag and fold it away.

  [ln 14]

  Honeymoon Hotel

It’s a good thing for her to know that the Brochure
is a major work. Put it right here, where
the boss has to look at it every morning.
Make an announcement: say that anyone,
even that smelly derelict the boss’s brother,

  [ln 5]

can turn up and guzzle the cheap wine.
People stoned on weak coffee write to us.
Gawkers perpetuate the misquoted line.

We’re checking the local mall cinema where
motion occurs all night long in the rows of seats.

  [ln 10]

On the screen a man floats over Niagara Falls,
then plunges down like a human cannonball.
Okay, we’re drinking cheap whisky from a bottle
in a paper bag, would you put us in gaol?

  [ln 14]

  Bridge in the Rain

The dream (plan, outline) has a moment when
a truck driver was misled: the Wilson Bridge
appeared as some generous little connector road
when really disaster waited; the will of a killer
reified on a dirt road. On the radio, is the blonde

  [ln 5]

goddess really a goddess? She was not young;
in fact a remarkably old person for a stage performer
called to tap-dance the yellow brick road to fame.

In this version of the warning against organised crime
he uses his numbness as proof of his experience.

  [ln 10]

The mob of men in the mall was a problem: there’s a
wild crow in a train, name of Baron Corvo, and
his warning will be obeyed: the moonlight, the night,
the sleeping animals — it all gets carted away.

  [ln 14]

  So Long

A US official remarked that Lisa M Altman
could bring the global merger to a halt.
In a generic business plan the profit holds,
but in real life shit happens. Go
meet the lenders in Polk Street Park,

  [ln 5]

and you had better bring them their money.
The ‘old mom’ rule will limit how far
you can employ the Ramon Switch Trick.

Beyond the two-mile limit there are bodies
in a magma pit of boulders beyond

  [ln 10]

federal jurisdiction. Who will get rid of them?
The perfume climbs into my tree.
The rat race originated with the nipple.
The mournful radar is a blanket over me.

  [ln 14]


Basso Corzine called the office; he has
pushed through the fire insurance claim.
There will also be a broken neck, he says,
speaking metaphorically, I hope. We,
who see around corners, into strongboxes,

  [ln 5]

must wear the guilt of our glancing. And now
we face the union of the bebop juror and the
hopeless lawyers, barristers, and cleaners.

In the music of the composure, sorry, composer,
will you be another coconut cream, or just

  [ln 10]

a typical bimbo fronting the cool jazz combo?
Here on the beach the salt air permits these
meanings. It will affect the possible use of the
bedroom you mentioned in your call to Mr Corzine.

  [ln 14]

  Asparagus and Me

Mark Henry, your group which sold humour
or yellow grass told you not to read
too much into the name carved on the soap.
And so from a day replete with rumours,
our lives ebbing always towards the centre,

  [ln 5]

we firm up the contract. Lola, the remake
seems doable now, if you call a conference,
wages minimal, or maybe she can play a nun —

what do you think, Bob? — and watch the hero,
a bearded guy, convincing old Folsom

  [ln 10]

that the captives were shoved out of the helicopter
in mid-flight. The state governor knew
who the victims were. He will use the secret grip
of the inner sanctum to effect the repeal of the appeal.

  [ln 14]

  News Item

His character was moulded on that of the more
bizarre children who were human, granted,
though not one of them had a single emotion
and the rest were wizards. Whistle and you’ll fly,
was their motto. They will sharpen the border

  [ln 5]

with their coup. I know that other channel where
Senator Dole likened a military manoeuvre to a
football ploy. I shall return in the dark and be seen.

Add this: Doctor Waldo misses the mark
and the law misses the risk of a mad bomber,

  [ln 10]

sick with anger because he is without a job.
He eats his slops without benefit of knife or fork.
He is hoping he’ll be a major news item
on the nine o’clock news, tonight, in New York.

  [ln 14]

  Stalled Innocence

We can just leave it outdoors all winter.
That way, no one will mind. We hope.
So immobile was the audience that
you could hear nominee Manuel Mile thinking.
In her last will and testament the missile

  [ln 5]

shall bless all their work. It was signed and witnessed
in a coal creek bed, there within the domain
of the women’s historical novel and its siblings.

They say that you use your democratic right
to endorse events that you would never countenance

  [ln 10]

in your home town, and now to add the Arkansas colonel
to the ticket will create a monster, if he’s elected.
The owner of the ‘don’t knock me out’ routine
owns the large fish that featured in the novel.

  [ln 14]

  Hair of the Dog

Wake up, you’re looking at this magazine, in which
an old woman shall blow bubbles in her local
swimming pool below the water mark,
far from her comfortable home and relatives.
She is surely the Republican who worked on

  [ln 5]

a method of registering reluctant voters
in slow motion. I was told to use the locker to
write this up, far from my local home folder.

On my lonely travels I will miss the Upper Bay
inbound crew, their happy work songs —

  [ln 10]

some women were complaining about the songs,
how they caused loss of bone marrow.
Read the tone of voice: when the guy who owns
a big truck speaks, get off your bike and listen.

  [ln 14]

  Poems, part 3: At the Movies: 8 poems

Caliban (loosely based on the movie Forbidden Planet, 1956)
Dark Passage (Dark Passage, 1947)
North by Northwest (North by Northwest, 1959)
Shadow of a Doubt (Shadow of a Doubt, 1943)
Black and White (The Three Faces of Eve, 1957)
Boy in Mirror (Vertigo, 1958)
Girl in Water (Vertigo, 1958)
Paris Blues (Paris Blues, 1961)


The hideous
id is
to the caves

deep under the ground

  [ln 5]

the abandoned
all night long.

  [ln 10]

will ruin

  [ln 14]

  Dark Passage

Poor Vincent Parry: he rolls out of a garbage can
and stumbles through a valley of coincidences,
falling into the lap of a blonde.

Poor Vincent: we are locked inside his head,
seeing everything, feeling nothing but vertigo

    [ln 5]

as the screen swoops and wobbles with his weaving
and ducking to avoid his fate. He can’t
have a drink, we would get splashed,
he dare not look in a mirror, because
we would be there gawking, dismayed…

    [ln 10]

Poor Vincent: he gets disfigured by a man with a towel
and a razor, and wakes up tied to the bed.
Madge calls, and whispers, and goes away,
and calls back again, spying, sneaking a drink, and
every fragment of conversation ends with Madge

    [ln 15]

who, if she can’t have what she wants,
kills it. Vincent gets punched around
and a pal gets it, beaten to death with a trumpet.
Madge, fatal Madge, fallen Madge,
defenestrated Madge on the sidewalk.

    [ln 20]

Ah, Vincent: he used to look handsome
with a pencil-thin moustache, then he woke up
looking like some movie star. He wants to
call out in his bad dream: Untie me!
Set me free! But he will not be free

    [ln 25]

until he takes the bus to distant Peru
alongside a couple of boring jerks
who have just stumbled over each other
in a bus station of all places.

Vincent dreams that he sits in a white jacket

    [ln 30]

sipping a drink by the moonlit beach in Peru,
feeling anxious until the music changes
and a blonde appears: Well, tie me down,
and start me dancing.

    [ln 34]

  North by Northwest

A hero breasts Manhattan traffic, always
ready to stop off at a tourist destination.
A blunder with a telegram and Mother —
a demon never seen, only hinted at
in her distant, comfortable castle —

    [ln 5]

will lose her little boy, who quickly
plunges into an irritating adventure
in the picaresque mode — leaping
to conclusions as the scenery reels past,
into bed and out again, dodging and weaving

    [ln 10]

across a landscape more deadly and bucolic
with each passing trick of the light.
Of course it’s post-postmodern to have the hero
an advertising man rather than a policeman-detective
tough-guy action type, and the crop-dusting plane scene

    [ln 15]

is funny and priceless. Perhaps the Master was trying to
lighten up after Vertigo. There’s no fun there, just
descending levels of madness and sadness.
The blonde, unlike his sainted Mother,
is very good and also devious and wicked,

    [ln 20]

and so roller coaster morals are the norm
and in fact this unravelling storm of incidents
and grief is the painful future due to us
when we stumble blinking into the light,
for this sequence of parables was built

    [ln 25]

by its huge crew of many talents to be seen
and heard in the crowded dark, the wicked
are found out and trampled on, another
train, another bed, good night.

    [ln 29]

  Shadow of a Doubt

Handsome Uncle Charlie, burdened by crime.
He laughs and scatters gifts, but he looks
unwell — no, he’s fine — the man playing cards
looks sick — he has a full hand of spades,
but then, he gets to tell the story about

    [ln 5]

how the ace of spades leads the pack.
Suspicion follows you like a snake in the grass,
so the story is torn up. But destroying the evidence
points to the evidence. Sleeping dogs lie.
Now, should a girl tell on the bad man?

    [ln 10]

It would kill Mother. But Uncle Charlie
has been killing plenty of those, it seems,
the lazy, greedy widows eating cake
and wasting money — they deserve to die.
Now those two men are here to see you,

    [ln 15]

again — something about a survey,
counting all the happy American families
and listening closely to their apple-pie opinions
as they look down from a high window through
shade-dappled branches at a pair of neighbours

    [ln 20]

gossiping in the sun. On the busy street
the old traffic cop can’t help the girl, he’s
avuncular and normal, and he has a job to do.
Now everything falls to pieces
and a killer pleads for his life. Traffic

    [ln 25]

everywhere, an engine running and leaking gas,
then back on the train again, the train
that takes you out into the horrible world.
The man with all the cards is here, somewhere,
behind the viewfinder, watching everything,

    [ln 30]

a resident alien with a point of view.
Uncle Charlie has to die, we all knew that,
it just took a while to fall into place
in front of a speeding black locomotive
somewhere out of town, and far away.

    [ln 35]

  Black and White

Everything loose, including the morals:
first one, then the other, a kind of sister:
a headache, a beating, and the bad one sneaks out
and chokes the child. Or is the better self
just a sober lady dying to have some fun?

    [ln 5]

And look, no coloured folk:
the streets are full of white Americans
strolling around a small town. Or dancing
which is also fun, or drinking alcohol,
that pool of mystery and regret.

    [ln 10]

She thinks: Put on the red dress.
Take it off. Say hello to the nice Doctor.
He frowns and looks concerned, and quickly
consults with an older, wiser man. Then he
writes it up, but we never see him

    [ln 15]

writing it up. He doodles with a pen at night.
Somewhere back in the fifties: the sound
of a typewriter clacking and a little bell
punctuating the script, I mean the story,
that is, the case notes. More fun in a truck;

    [ln 20]

later, nostalgia. Soon there are three women
arguing and hating each other; after a while
one of them starts forgiving one of the others.
First her sorrow and concern
for that other woman, then mine.

    [ln 25]

Where does she get the energy?
It’s the headaches, stupid. Try divorce,
and become a better human being, as if
that would help. Nothing keeps death at bay.
Somewhere a nicer person is moving

    [ln 30]

slowly towards me. When it’s time to say good-bye
I’ll die, just like that, for her sake. For my sake.
Say good-bye. Never leave me.

    [ln 33]

  Boy in Mirror

First words: Gimme your hand! Then a fall, a death.
I left town in 1957 and went away, boarding school
gymnasium whirring sixteen millimetre movies:
Escape From Colditz or Stalag Seventeen, blondes
with heaving breasts were verboten for good reason.

    [ln 5]

So what do boys like about vertigo? It was
a way of experiencing something alien and new:
we had a trick of breathing much too fast for too long
then another boy would squeeze your chest from behind
as you held you breath and almost burst

    [ln 10]

and a million years later you would come to,
on the floor of a room on another planet
surrounded by strangers while your memories
converged slowly like a crowd at an accident.

Picnic was strong enough, when I was thirteen;

    [ln 15]

Vertigo would have finished me off.

Now I can face Madeleine in the water in a suit
with stiff blonde hair and stilted accent and demeanour.
The wounded boy in the water quickly becomes a man
dragging her backwards behind him as he swims

    [ln 20]

to the shore at the foot of a huge bridge —
trying not to bruise Kim Novak’s
wonderful tits.

Wounded three times, each time deeper
but he doesn’t know yet what horrors…

    [ln 25]

what mistakes, misunderstandings… he’s
juggling with a walking stick, he’s toppling
off a chair.

But he must have seen her stark naked!
Not glimpsed yet: if only he knew: Judy

    [ln 30]

from Salinas in the mid-West, stormy gateway
to the land of Oz, hiding two secrets,
loose, human,
but also art, and also dragged into a willed shape
by a troubled man

    [ln 35]

— restored in 1996 —

A footloose male: another in North by Northwest,
a direction no compass has ever known,
despite Hamlet’s ham-fisted play-acting:
‘I am but mad north-north-west —’

    [ln 40]

cut off from their normal jobs and bonding rituals.
Both women are imprisoned by a monster, though
the heroes don’t realise that. First
we have to follow and then rescue the princess,
unmask or defeat the monster, awaken the sleeping beauty

    [ln 45]

to our desires and needs, but the women are awake
already to their own desires.

Cherchez la femme, then the action
moves to a strangely threatening rural arena
far from the city: dangerous heights and fatal falls;

    [ln 50]

the (blonde) is unfaithful to the hero, maybe because
captured possessed by another monster and quite soon
the hero is a cuckolder and the woman adulterous and thus
fallen, or falling, or dead and gone. We hear
some moody music — Bernard Herrmann’s

    [ln 55]

more insistent music: all right,
I’m afraid of the future.

The first incarnation of the goddess is Madeleine,
a name in search of lost time, and quickly dunked, and
hailing from the East she is naturally cold

    [ln 60]

and remote in a steel-grey suit: now
she drives an English car, a Jaguar with plates that say
MGK 159, obliquely hinting at a stray fact
just outside the camera’s field of view: the owner of the car
once owned an old MG type K sports car,

    [ln 65]

then got rich
and traded in the clunker for a Jaguar —
but kept the plates — they always want
some memento of their lost youth, and now
an actress plays with his new toy, pretends to drive it, but

    [ln 70]

we never see her driving, just getting in and out.

Later she can be
more authentic, working in a job,
where she absolutely must clock on until Mister Handsome
becomes pitiful and pleading. She might become

    [ln 75]

‘Judy’ from some dump in Kansas
and wear sloppy clothes. Anything’s possible.
Speak like a tart, Judy! Good girl! Now she
walks on foot.

Earlier, locked in her metallic suit —

    [ln 80]

the wounded hero at the start
quickly spiralling into madness —
the mirror shape of the plot and counter plot
in harmonic motion, the circular corsage,
the spirals in the trunk of a dumb tree, then

    [ln 85]

the camera notices her hair, and the clumsy portrait,
driving in diminishing circles around the sunlit town.
Spiral, circle, spiral, circle…

May I commend the awkward acting? ‘You
were the copy, you were the counterfeit —

    [ln 90]

those beautiful phoney trances’ — thus
more sincere, or just less competent —
rather that than be like the brittle professional woman
in North by Northwest, or is that just a personal reaction?

And the smooth villain in the suit is named Elster,

    [ln 95]

German for magpie, a collector of beautiful things, but:
Die Elster stiehlt, so gut sie schwatzt — the magpie
steals as well as it chatters. So the great painter Elstir
haunted Proust — so much success! Yet
troubled by thoughts of his future death —

    [ln 100]

‘ambitious melancholy clouded his brow’ —
a clever analysis of a fleeting expression, which
may have been, in fact, the painter’s embarrassment
at hearing a gushy and pushy young suck-up artist
praise his ‘fame’.

    [ln 105]

So, Marjorie Wood says of her brassiere: principle
of the cantilever bridge, an aircraft engineer
down the peninsula designed it, in his spare time.
Between two deaths — Gimme your hand!
and a good policeman falls to his death

    [ln 110]

in the alley below, then the old college chum Gavin —
Mission number, skid row? No, ‘Colour, excitement,
power, freedom’ — San Francisco eighteen forty-eight —
then Ernie’s Restaurant with its red velvet wallpaper
and her green English car — in the Spanish Mission

    [ln 115]

graveyard calla lilies — mist fogging the lens —
a suicide’s grave in consecrated ground? What
madness is that? Catholic continuity girl, please!
Then at the McKittrick Hotel, an old drudge: ‘I’ve been
right here all the time, putting olive oil on

    [ln 120]

my rubber plant leaves’, then
a detour to the Argosy Bookshop and
an avuncular European man — if he reads books,
he must have glasses and a funny accent, then
a strange darkness falling too swiftly, following

    [ln 125]

the script into a kind of nightfall, however wrongly.

The scene in the redwood forest.
Her big white coat, so vulnerable…

Scotty (drinks) Boy, I need this!

There’s a brandy bottle. Next scene:

    [ln 130]

Scotch and soda.

Fluffy white coat!
Pink soft body underneath!

Scotty: I always thought you were wasting your time
in the underwear department.

    [ln 135]

Good Barbara: Well, it’s a living.

Kim Novak, left-handed, writing a sad letter:
We had fun… and then you started in on the clothes…
Beside her crummy hotel, the Twelfth Knight bar.

She had to die…

    [ln 140]

I hear voices…

God have mercy!

    [ln 142]

  Girl in Water

Waiting to meet a pretty girl — any pretty girl —
hot summer day in 1958, beach crowd, emotional algebra,
also list and remember: makeup, perfume, lipstick, talc,
telephone passion — no, a soda fountain, a pizza.

Do they dream of mystery and adventure, women?

    [ln 5]

or do girls want to drown in literature? No, stupid. I
bet she’d like a fragrant pizza topped with mozzarella,
or is that just me? A movie: Item: Kim Novak. A drive-in —

yes, more subtle and powerful appetites litter the sand.
So become that detective, wounded, pitiful; so

    [ln 10]

learn to love and learn to fail in love, in the back row at the Bijou,
in parked cars, or snug among sand-hills… your spyglass a nib,

keyhole secrets memorised and filed away, until
eternity comes calling at the foot of a staircase.
After that ending, another climb, another cliff

    [ln 15]

beyond which something awful awaits: love

or falling in love, or into love, or falling into death, a
uniform and dizzying and swift descent
that leaves you breathless, leaves you
very unsteady like a cork in the water,

    [ln 20]

effervescent and febrile and emotionally labile,
ready for almost anything.
That conscious pilot spoke: quod scripsi
scripsi, I have written what? I have written for

girl in water ‘girl in water’, girl

    [ln 25]

or woman in waves of water. I,
keen to find behind mirrors, wavering echoes, burn
in plots and complex narratives to draw

many clues out, threads of meaning. A
new insight into the convoluted plot

    [ln 30]

of good and evil I can look for, where good men whine,
villains struggle to prevail and bluster

against ordinary background noise and hubbub
kaleidoscopes of criminality and subtle fiscal judo
scam and prosper, and some ordinary guy

    [ln 35]

will win and lose everything. I

owe more than money. The key will turn:
nervous ex-detectives afraid of causing harm
drop into floods of anxiety, plunge into semi-
enervating doubt; whirlpools of suspicion, and later

    [ln 40]

refuse help from well-meaning friends or
from glum old girl-friends, dawdling, doodling, who
understand too well their weaknesses, their
lack of manly self-respect, who know how hypnotic

those doubled mysteries within a mystery are. You reach

    [ln 45]

into a maelstrom of neurosis. Beyond bodily desire,
these complex chess-like fantasies are the true romantic
scenes in your life: the most ludic acrostic paradises: click!

    [ln 48]

  Paris Blues

It’s the early sixties: before heroin,
before herpes and AIDS ruined things,
before the women’s movement.
Jack Kerouac is still alive, though only just,
with eight years left to live. But

    [ln 5]

let’s leave America behind and take
a cultural detour down to the cellar
where a successful American export,
a jazz band, is winding up for the night.
The hero is a nice guy: short back and sides,

    [ln 10]

casually dressed in slacks and a neatly pressed
polo shirt. You’d like him. He plays a trombone.
A trombone? But first

we see a city at dawn: a man wearing a beret
idling along the cobbled street on a push-bike

    [ln 15]

then a girl wearing a scarf and carrying
one of those long loaves of bread
in her basket, bought at a local bakery!
It must be Hollywood: and it is! Though
with a French savoir-faire and a touch of

    [ln 20]

je ne sais quoi. As we get used to the silky
black and white, and the smooth lighting, we realise
we have been drawn into one of those indoor-
outdoor binary universes: when the action happens
indoors, the lighting is perfect, a studio in Burbank, say,

    [ln 25]

where even in the phoney park the light is just right.
But in the ‘real’ outdoors it’s windy and overcast
and the lighting is kind of muddy and
the passers-by look suspicious and distracted,
so it must be Paris, or a version of it.

    [ln 30]

Yes, in a dive in Paris the hep cats are jumping,
jiving like it was the forties, when in fact
rock’n’roll has come and gone, JFK
is President, and the Ford Edsel is old hat.
Then we see the hero’s name: Ram Bowen.

    [ln 35]

Can they be serious? A name like that,
and Paul Newman with a trombone? Well, this is
a Paris of the mind, where ordinary suffering humanity
get to be pushed around by a bad script, so
anything can happen. The hero’s buddy is a black guy,

    [ln 40]

but he’s played by Sidney Poitier and wears
a suit and tie and a wristwatch and a short haircut,
so he’s all right — however deeply touched by
the madness of art — that is, jazz entertainment.

Then two women arrive on holiday:

    [ln 45]

one white, divorced, with two kids back home,
and the other black and single. So we have
four Americans in Paris but with angst
instead of fun: these jazz dudes may be polite
and press their shirts, but poor Ram:

    [ln 50]

his struggle with the demon of art and all those
late nights make him despondent.

So through the sets of matched doubles
day after day the Jane Austen problem
keeps rearing its ugly head: ladies,

    [ln 55]

how do you catch your man, when he’s
a wild free spirit who suffers for his art?

Of course there’s a resentful older woman
with a French accent: we see her checking the till
in the cellar at daybreak when the crowds have gone,

    [ln 60]

and cooking, but she keeps to the shadows,
nursing her hurt beauty behind a veil of makeup.

We get a clue as to why Ram is a musician,
not a writer: Paris is picaresque, he says.
His new girl friend Lillian misses this,

    [ln 65]

or maybe gets it and neglects to correct him,
shaking her blonde hair, straightening her gloves,
waving her handbag at the expensive scenery,
thinking — perhaps — that picaresque is French
for picturesque, and not wanting to

    [ln 70]

put the kibosh on a blossoming affair:
the guy’s Paul Newman in mufti, after all.

Meanwhile Sydney Poitier has a tormented talk
with his dusky lady friend Connie: colour,
the question of colour, that he can avoid in Paris.

    [ln 75]

Should he go back to New York and face it?
The colour problem that brave Americans are
painfully working through, white and black alike,
maybe it’s his duty: she says it’s his duty
until his teeth ache, but then she says

    [ln 80]

she wants to have dozens of children.
What’s a guy supposed to think?

Ram wakes up late from the hangover of music.
He and Lillian have long talks about how
art eats you up, and we note that Ram

    [ln 85]

wears his wristwatch to bed, no doubt needing to time
what happens between those pressed white sheets.
As dawn breaks over tourist-flavoured Paris
he yawns and rises, his hair perfectly combed.
How can you tell if a man’s art is authentic?

    [ln 90]

Why, opines the lady, it’s the way he made me feel.
She speaks to him of Ram Bowen in the third person,
and addresses his dimple, which broods in silence.
Honey, he insists, I live music, morning
noon and night! Meanwhile her outfits

    [ln 95]

are astonishing: one beautiful coat after another,
scarves, gloves, hats: the product of resourceful
shopping as wide-ranging, committed and passionate
as Ram’s devotion to his trombone.

Yes, Ram is hitched to his mournful trombone

    [ln 100]

and we have the feeling that one day
he’ll find himself alone with the thing,
an old couple who don’t much like each other.

‘We are the night people!’ the nicely-dressed
black man exclaims on the tourist boat,

    [ln 105]

‘ and it’s a whole different world!’ Sidney
is hinting at a kind of underground where
moral values are reversed, where being cool
is better than being prosperous and where art
has usurped Mammon’s place on the altar.

    [ln 110]

Then he checks his watch and adjusts his tie
and the illusion breaks up into ripples.
He’s a type, not a person, a vacant role
waiting to be imitated and filled in,
a cool black dude with the race problem

    [ln 115]

and a stern girl friend to worry about.

They play some music as an interlude
from the dialogue, though for Ram
we know that this view is back to front.
Now why is that saxophone playing second fiddle

    [ln 120]

to a trombone? Have you ever seen a band
with a dominant trombone? Is it because
Paul is more handsome than Sidney?
Taller? More white, let’s say? Then
we are asked to believe that Louis Armstrong,

    [ln 125]

America’s ambassador of cultural goodwill,
is some great giant of modern jazz, oh please,
gimme a break, he was briefly avant-garde
before the Great Depression, long ago,
and the furious God of Bop has long since

    [ln 130]

consigned him to the dustbin of history
and the lounge rooms of the middle class.

Now Ram’s pal the coke fiend is snorting heavily —
it’s his way, he says. Well, he’s a French Gypsy,
not a regular guy. Now Ram makes him

    [ln 135]

see his future in the figure of an old friend
ruined by drugs, busking on the street,
drooling and plunking on a tuneless guitar.
Gypsy, see a doctor, Ram says earnestly,
suddenly the concerned bourgeois. Then

    [ln 140]

more tourist epiphanies — shopping and kissing —
and as Ram hugs his blonde under an umbrella
an abashed camera coyly looks down
at his slacks and highly-polished casual shoes.

In this cloudy autumn weather they

    [ln 145]

cast no shadows, like devils, and chez nous
read the Herald Tribune just to keep in touch.
In the corner, a television set. [See Note 1]  This movie
might well appear there, titled The Tender Trap. [ 2 
Sidney goes crazy with love and buys

    [ln 150]

more flowers than he can afford.

Then Ram meets a powerful agent
who knows everything — Ram is good,
but his music is not good enough,
says the wise man. That’s an opinion,

    [ln 155]

but not a life plan. What to do? Being moody,
that’s not suffering, you have to be a bastard
like Rimbaud. He used to keep lice in his hair
so he could flick them at passing priests, and
for a while there he was a sodomite —

    [ln 160]

no blondes for him — and when he got moody
he killed a man by throwing a rock at him,
and in the end he tore up his talent
and left all that art shit behind. So, Ram,
marry the blonde or the junk or the trombone,

    [ln 165]

just quit pissing around, will you?

At last Lillian comes to rest in her hotel room,
exhausted by her efforts to persuade a dumb guy
to marry her, in a wilderness of dishevelled suitcases
and loose shopping. Then he turns up, then

    [ln 170]

he has an attack of gloom and abandons her.

Oh, Ram! You and the script writer both
seem to have lost your grip at the climax:
a more authentic person has taken over
and inhabited this blonde like a virus and

    [ln 175]

as the train for Le Havre chugs out of the station
in a cloud of steam I realise that Lillian
is smarter and more fun than Ram, and maybe
she’s better off alone on the boat train heading
back to New York and her two kids, where Frank O’Hara

    [ln 180]

has just finished his poem ‘Lana Turner has collapsed!’
on the Staten Island ferry on his way to a reading
in a snowstorm, and some other different and
more interesting movie is about to begin.

    [ln 184]

Neatly-dressed Bohemians: publicity photo for the movie Paris Blues.
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  NOTES, 2015

[ 1 ]  television set] The movie was filmed in Paris in 1960, and released in 1961. In 1960 there were over one million television set active in France, and 52 million sets active in the USA. In 1960, a television set in France cost about fifteen week’s average wages; in today’s money (2015) that would amount to over nine thousand US dollars. A jazz trombone player owns a television set worth over nine thousand dollars? Are you kidding? This movie is far more American than you thought!

[ 2 ]  The Tender Trap] is a 1955 movie directed by Charles Walters, and starring Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds, David Wayne and Celeste Holm. Story: Charlie Reader is a successful theater agent. He is also successful with young ladies. One day he is visited by his old friend Joe, married with three children. Joe falls in love with Charlie’s girl Sylvia while Charlie spends his time with young actress Julie. Uh huh.