Look, there are pearls of rain that hang and drip
in the grey light. There’s the high wall with its fists
of flint, and the leaves with their green palms
open to the sky, till a gust exposes their delicate wrists
and they shudder and lift and the grey light remains.
And this is what’s strange, this being anywhere
with a familiar incomprehensibility, the birds
familiar to the sky, relaxed in its homely air,
yet mad and otherwise, strange even to themselves.
You sit at your table, friend, at home with the curious
paraphernalia of your body as I am with mine.
I feel our peculiar, polyvalent, unutterably various
languages shifting underfoot. To me the names
I pass between my lips – Algiers,Tunis, Rabat –
are as fresh clothes in which my body is renewed.
May your fresh clothes be mine. May the desert
at your feet burn mine.


After Baudelaire

I’m like the king of a rainy country,  rich
but wobbly-weak, both cub and toothless bitch.
I’m through with books,and poems and  string quartets:
I’ve sold the horses, shot the household pets.
Cheer up? Not likely, board games are a bore
and as for ‘the people’ dying by my door,
fuck them, and fuck that guitar-wielding clown,
who’s worse than useless when I’m feeling down.
Here I’m the king stuck in his regal bed,
the girls can put on sex shows, give him head,
go girl on girl, no point, it just won’t work,
nothing will jump-start this junky royal jerk.
The quack who brings me pills and knows a trick
to harden flaccid aristocratic dick,
may as well bring blood and the Roman Baths
the kind that suited those old psychopaths.
No good, once dead in muscle, nerve, and brain.
It’s all green Lethe and that bloody rain.

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