For the requisite wine I head to the harbour to write.
After watching for a minute the zoo on the sailboats today
I give up on those facts which are not what a reader’d believe
such as the man on a yacht with a bone China plate on his knees
who eats like a dog would if Rover or Lassie had hands,
and the two men in short shorts who are mooring their boat on the quay
while they smile at each other more ardently than most couples do.
Then there are the English, who speak — you can tell: they do not move their mouths —
imparting banalities with a welcome so-long-vowel wait.
There are Germans and Spaniards, and also a jackdaw one knows
and a ponderous Pole who is checking for runs in her hose.
Under her table a terrier, shamed by the way people eat,
pretends it’s asleep by remembering to shiver its legs.
The next-table lady who is biting her syllables sharply
looks down at a text every time that her husband speaks up.
How stern she appears, sitting there as she stares down the menu —
or catalogue, is it? — as if she’s remembering back when
she, attired in woad paint, was a pin-up rum punch for the Normans.
Her husband tries lightening things up: he drinks himself blind,
which is slow heavy business, the bottle-blonde waitress distracted
by the jackdaw who teases my snacks, and by the tan terrier’s trembling
and by a bellicose Spaniard who is telling all tolls are atomic.
‘Did you get that?’ the Pole asks. I realise she’s speaking to me.
I’m at sea now, absorbing Merlot like a fly-about magpie
fined for picking up bits from a windswept white rough-water beach
and for cosseting this summer’s rude stage as a fair-weather friend.
‘If you really looked what would you see?’
my table mate jackdaw enquires of me.
I look at him and we both lose
ourselves in snack-filled intervals.
Small children cycle to and fro.
Gulls imitate a pregnant crow.
At dusk, above a script I cannot read
gulls gyre and shriek, imitating maids
that fuelled Vikings in their dreams
of conquering Saxons, quaffing mead.
I drain the glass, embrace the glow
and tell the jackdaw it’s time we go.
Dancing slow in the dark at Royal Pines
Quart Budweiser bottles warming in the car
Old cars race the moon down curvy streets
Rock music blaring over floodlit grass
Pretty girls and eager gangly boys
Any music fine if it is loud
Rock around the clock and to the car
People talking like somebody listens
Insects flying up at cooking lights
Play at being grownup without getting old
Cooking something fancy in the mind
Dancing slow at Royal Pines
I remember, in what passed that year for summer,
I had been reading books and smoking mind.
Tom Robbins’ Villa Incognito drummer
pla-bongad maidens, paying them in kind
for sake, kindness. I kept getting dumber,
imagining sense and ethics intertwined
although there was no evidence they did.
I dined on farm-fresh salmon, freeze-dried squid.
The Nordic storm inside my living room
fed on the rain lawn-tennis television
emitted. Ice floes threatened to entomb
the paddy-fields, and Jack Frost sneered derision.
A serene Serena braved the baseline flume,
excused a blinded-line-judge bad decision,
and hit a forehand through her blond foe’s pout,
and would have won, but was again rained out.
the year being remembered: Associated Press July 3, 2004
‘WIMBLEDON, England – A day after a pair of enthralling, three-set women’s semi-finals enlivened Wimbledon, unrelenting rain and uneven match-ups conspired to produce a dreary Friday on which neither men’s semi-final was completed.’
Wild ducks compete with children for the shade
in the shallow water underneath this tree.
Tan toddlers pelt their siblings with wet sand.
Few other places the Creator made
compare well with this shallow inland sea
for pretty pleasures. Children understand.
Here they are quiet and happy, and they play
at finding pirate treasure till they swim
into the sunshine. One beached duck eats bread
from a sandwich dropped off earlier today
by a duck-god, he says, daily feeding him.
His story grabs my heart if not my head.
When summer ends and locust-song is stilled,
then winter winds will come and splash grey rain
upon these tables; where we now serve chilled
rosé, and rest, and celebrate how brain,
or mind, can make out meanings; winkle pain
from dumb paint globs: these daubs, those speckled floors.
My neighbour here proclaims her brushes course
with purest beauty. Looks to me a mess:
a mix of mangled manual metaphors.
She’d ostracise me were I to confess.
The angels balance on the cloud bank’s moving edge.
Being angels they can easily fly or hover
without wings or with them. They look down
trying their best to remember Louisiana.
‘It was here,’ Ferulia says. ‘Or maybe there.’
They watch the polluted water extinguish the life
of many species and mutate some others.
There is a cruelty guy, not on the national level
like the jackals that the would-be emperor unleashes
but more personal and focussed. Robin Hood
and he were soulmates in another life.
His obsession is to destroy the Goebbels clones
who compete for the mad leader’s favour and for the power
to oppress and torture normal civil people.
He is a sort of god, or a wraith — a cloud of hate.
Last night I dreamt that I watched him at work.
He rounded up some of the would-be emperor’s aides
and stood them shackled in a moonlit square.
He asked them to repeal their cruel rules.
When they refused, he showed them personal hurt.
He pushed a titanium trocar through their shoulders.
He threaded poison wire through their red wounds.
He tied the wire off.
‘Perfect poison circles
like ruffs of office,’ he said.
They said, ‘Please
give us another chance.’
He said, ‘Too late.’