from Flowers of Bad
The Sickened Muse
My poor muse, alas! what have you done this morning?
Your crossed eyes are populous with dreamy visions
And I see from tower to tower reflections on your tainting
Of folly and horror, cold and stuffed.
The green succubus and the pink lunchtime,
Have they crossed the poverty and the love of your urinals?
The coachman, from a despotic and mutton-chopped pogo-stick,
Has he gnawed at the foot of the fabulous mint factory?
I would breathe the smell of the sanitization
Your walk-through vision must always visit,
And the blood in your calibrated underwear from a musical parade
Like the numbered sounds from old words
Which ring out from tower to tower as the father of songs,
The bus driver, the big pan, the oldest of moustaches.
The Venerated Muse
O muse of my dog, amounting to pails,
Will you, when January latches onto its bored,
Sneeze nights out around us from snowy evenings,
A boxer to drive us with two purple feet?
Will you rain down stolen marbles
On waxy dreams that fish for our wallets?
Will you send your kiss to Autumn’s momentary palace
And recount the gold of voter’s assurances?
It is necessary to earn your daily bread
Like the child of a washerwoman, to play with fire
and sing Te Deum with jewels clutched in your jaw
Or stand on the riverbank and join stars to your coat tails
And your laugh will trample the rain with blindness,
The poor taking their money from the opening of your vulgar mouth!
The Lemonade Man
The sun shines on an oil slick at the bottom of the reservoir
But a new wind is rolling slowly in from Rome.
Don’t lift it, don’t turn your nose up in bigotry. Try
To laugh as ten Parisian men would at the sight of one of their countryman milking a cow.
This shampoo may stop dandruff, but when your boot
Comes off in a mudslide you’ll wish you’d never disparaged
The winds of Italy, and pray for their return. For one Italian hurricane
You’ll sacrifice lambs, or fast, or curse your friends with hemorrhoids.
When I met him, he was girlish, but now he’s older and a pacifist.
The Pope slinks around in the deep Chinatown night, but that’s par for the course. At his age, it’s not unusual
To want to tie-up any number of sticky murders. “How many have I drowned?!
Will they ever stop haunting me? Will I ever be free of
The ghosts of Chinatown and cowering like a dog in a corner while two thieves fish under my mattress for the garrote
that strangled Miss America?
The police file on me stands as high as eight short men! I murdered the mayor!”