Prosaic Parting

I tire of the squirrels. They tire of me.
We agree to separate.
I walk towards the tree. They bark, ‘No, we!’
I retrace my steps and wait.
The squirrels run around me on the ground,
then they actually run up the tree.
I too could climb it given time;
I could climb it pitifully.
I will go home instead, perhaps to bed,
or more likely to a table
where I will sit and write though it takes all night
a squirrel-and-human fable.

Songs of the Soused

This bee, this venerable possum, and this snail
Were my Christmas guests. We wore bright paper hats
And the smiles one tries when conversations fail.
The possum sang a song all sharps and flats
The bee did wing flaps humming this and thats.
The snail shelled out for sherry and was able
To drink the possum underneath the table.
The bee and I, bemused that we had learned
That possums playing dead was not a fable,
Sang lachrymosely while the pudding burned.

The Angel ‘Stubs’

Stubs has the same number of names as the other angels

But they are persistent in addressing him as ‘Stubs’.

Today he wears faux ferret fur and bangles

And a frown, because too much sarcasm rubs

Even angels wrong. It’s not Stub’s fault he scrubs

Celestial floors and ceilings with his wings

Or that, in flying races, he runs rings

Around the cherubs, mixing metaphors

With miracles. His wings are wondrous things

That no feathered rival anywhere adores.

Geef Mij Maar Amsterdam

I’ve not been up to Dublin nor down to Istanbul
And so far I’ve resisted Prague’s and even Vienna’s pull
But I’ve walked and worked in London and I always found it great
And in Paris I have wined and dreamed often in a state
Of bliss that is the opposite of lapsing into coma
And once I brought the New Year in in a riotous flat in Roma.
Barcelona was and is a place where I could like to live.
Milano disappointed me although I did not give
It but one day — the loss is mine — but I’m so glad I am
Able to say every day Give me but Amsterdam.

Written on reading Las 10 ciudades más visitadas de Europa in EL PAÍS

Monday Late Night Blues

It’s hard sometime to pay enough attention
It’s hard sometime to pay enough attention
when you know the time you’ve got is not enough

The time I had was plenty — I let it go
The time I had was plenty — Let it go
There’s more where that time came from. It’s not mine

My steel guitar got stolen very long ago
My steel guitar got stolen very long ago
I never learned to play it anyhow

And now I pay attention but I don’t care
Oh yes, I pay attention but I don’t care
My mind went first and I ran after it

Bring up the blues piano, pedals stomped
Bring up the blues piano, pedals stomped
The piano tuner left — nobody paid his bill

I reminisce about a cotton field that I never saw
I reminisce about a cotton field that I never saw
I thought it was the bayou for too long

Now I bottle all my sorrows up
I bottle up my sorrows in a jug
That I carry in this foxed brown paper bag

Play the ragged blues in a bluesy key
Play the ragged blues in a bluesy key
No long green headed down this way

Exonym

In words we find but mirrors of the heart,
that, smudged with inky hands, absorb the light.
We wánt the words to show the way, but thwart
our selves, and others’, if we think that flight
into the soothing rhythms of a poem
can pacify our loneliness, assuage
(by trick of pressing metric verbal gems)
real living’s tender moments, or its rage.

Like Spanish bugles calling, poems can lift
the heart to try again when it is sore,
but poems alone can never heal a rift
or rival true awakening. What’s more,

a poem can’t be but fraction of the sum
of all we were, and are, and will become.

The Unlikeliest Four Horsemen — prequel

I took umbrage and an eclair. I drank the vicar’s tea.
I bemoaned my feeling that my life lacked serendipity.
The vicar’s spaniel teased the cat, until the cat drew blood.
The vicar wittered witless on, opining how The Flood
had been a boom that gave the Earth a rest and time to sup
before we humans gained the power to muck the planet up.
‘Now, he said, ‘the planet dies or, rather, kills us all.
Isn’t that a jolly way to commemorate The Fall?’
I could have left. I could have stayed. I ate the last eclair.
‘Give over, vicar,’ I replied. ‘We can do more than stare
into the abyss or at our cups of hemlock and weak tea.
The vicar stirred, said, ‘All is lost’. The spaniel said, ‘Won’t be.’
The cat performed a magic rite, perhaps a parlour trick,
that made the spaniel wag its tail and made the vicar sick
with envy. ‘Oh, how my sedentary life has been a waste,’ he raved.
But now, thanks to the four of us, the planet will be saved.