Cheddar sharp enough to bite
my tongue off helps me in the night.
When the bitter wears off and the hours
awake alone take on such power,
I give up sleep, get out of bed
imagining if my devil’s fed
a sandwich he will let me sleep
(or take my soul he wants to keep).
I stumble down the servant stairs.
Once in the kitchen, my knife pares
the cheddar’s rind. It slices toast
before I toast it from the most
mould-free bread I can unearth.
A steady cutting hand is worth
two fingers easy in the dark.
(Ave, a V then, midnight lark.)
Saluting, I turn the oven on,
admiring how the bread gets drawn
up at the corners by the weight
of centred cheddar slices laid
thick to make my devil fat
and draw his claws in like a cat
I watch cheese slide
around in the oven. I make fried
eggs and eat them with grilled cheese.
I drink pints of milk, hope they appease
the wake-up devil till he dreams
and lets me too, or so it seems.
musing on a park bench in Valencia’s Placa Dels Pinazo
Oh the edge of death not sure which side is safer
I partake of wine and juju, chew a wafer.
The titles of a million books to read,
the half not written yet, pass in review.
The half of those, their authors being dead,
won’t ever be. I try to buy a few.
The cold that passes understanding calls.
I hope my bold not answering to it stalls
the inexorableness of history so far.
I am wishing on a nonexistent star.
In pointy shoes, the smiling dancing mother
and her husband and her mother praise her baby.
They are happy as they should be. Life is blooming.
The baby’s laughter lights the universe.
Where are we? I don’t know. I have no map.
I buy a map. I learn that I am lost.
An urgent call to action makes me nap.
I dream about the chances I have tossed
aside so often they have scars embossed
on every surface. Centuries elapse.
I warn heroic actors, ‘Mind the gaps’
but no one listens. All of them ignore
advice from ancients letting loose their clasp
on everything. The way I did. Before.
‘We lived in the woods,’ he said as if that mattered.
Perhaps it did. To him. But not to me.
He gathered thoughts that I had liked better scattered.
I answered I had felt more for the sea.
We watched each other at and through the mirror.
We blinked and shook our heads. We still were there.
The waves outside grew mountainous. The nearer
grabbed our attention. We took to the air.
Just because I am light-hearted
in this purblind vale of tears
does not mean that I have sanity.
Just the opposite, my dears.
Published in The Armchair Aesthete, Autumn 1997 issue