Monday, June 25, 2007


It's true that when you travel
there's no avoiding Woody Allen.
Every sidewalk artist knows him, and the four
score and seven more sketch-worthy actors
who ambush you from here to Thailand;
transmutations of the monoculture from which we come.

Such harbingers. It reminds me how the prophets
said all the ends of earth express a single sum.
A few foretold of molten glass and crystal seas;
others were happy with brimstone and great heat.
I want to agree, but the spare visions seem to me
like airports in which we find ourselves undone.

Asphalt we may all become. Finally on vacation,
in Provence with Caitlin, all the ancient prophets
can kindly make a pilgrimage to kiss my ass.
We're staying in the backside of a decrepit hotel.
It has stood longer than our country, inconveniently
near a shifting border in a forgotten city,
where fortresses decay in dignified ways.

The Templars fled here, kapice? They hung 2,000 paintings
by pointillists and Fauvists who knew Picasso and Braque.
Painted for drinks and dinners, they were traded on this spot
for the famous fish soups of Rene and Pauline Pous.
I don't see 2,000, but Pauline was a beauty; Picasso
often did her justice in the hallways, and the rooms.

O'Brian the author chose wisely, and Machado
the poet presaged refugees who've not forgotten.
Above the alleyways before Mediterranean mornings,
we'll make love two or maybe three unhurried times.
I'll throw open our creaking, bleached-blue shutters
to admit insistent suns, and invite ascending diesel
fumes and fresh
baguettes to join our breakfast.

I'll inspect them for guilt and disinfectants.
Listen, you prophets, this is no Disneyland.
Many were the hidden hands that plied genocides
and silenced honest speakers. You see that hilltop castle,
which floats alight on nothingness? It was once bewitched,
and much besieged. Real heads and bodies rolled on down
to where the Irish band plays 'Ghost Riders' on the shore.

Here is where we exported our most sacred
acts of oral sex to Britain. Here is where we formed
the words for cold and hot. It's where we made soap
from old enemies, and fed tobacco to circus goats.
This is where we ate the last bodies of Neanderthals.
Do you see the hilltops? Those are the same peaks
our forebears fled from, and never stopped to tell us why.

The goats ask for more. We had our first fight,
and miles take long to drive. Towns stagger.
One is named for a dead pig at Carcassone.
Another, near Cahors, for a brilliant whore.
But in Coillure, tonight, there was a gentleman
selling lighters deaf and mute in cafes outdoors.
He left a note with his predicaments at our table;
we bought it, and achieved an absence of America.

I still have it. It's curved like an Algerian dagger,
a shiny cerulean blue. When we tried it then,
and once again at 3AM, there shot out two plumes
of honestly dangerous flame. One jet for each cigarette
of the addicted couple we had become. We smoked,
and began to immolate the unframed paintings.
The paintings hissed like dying Cathars, and splaying
flames admitted the existence of a Great Horned One.

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