that you won't find in white-bread neighborhoods.
Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bite
I hold in hand the tiger's tooth,
extracted from my bottom.
He gnawed me, fickle cut, forsooth;
zoo-keepers came and got 'im.
I'd had him since he was a cub,
I'd nursed him with a bottle,
but now I'm naught to him but grub,
a morsel epiglottal.
It pains me where I'd like to sit;
his actions smack of treason,
though what I fed him, I'll admit,
could well have been the reason.
Two cans of kitty food most days
won't sate a tiger's hunger,
above all when the beast of prey's
not getting any younger.
Shrill alarm, should be unlawful;
it's electric, draws few amps.
Chin and cheeks rough, mouth tastes awful,
stretch too hard your legs get cramps.
Stagger john-ward, urgent leakage,
pent-up pressure; flush the bowl.
To the kitchen, joints all creakage;
passing years do take their toll.
Dump some brew beans in the grinder,
blip or two; bouquet abounds.
Wife's not up, sleep's undermined 'er,
paper boy's due on his rounds.
Down some Grovestand Tropicana,
cup of java, first of five.
Slice of raisin bread, pure manna.
Slowly, slowly come alive.
Public Radio's providing
Music Through the Night, right? Yup.
Mozart, Weber, Bach abiding
fill my ears as toast pops up.
Milk and berries, crispy bran flakes,
settle down to read the news:
California's having earthquakes,
politics gives me the blues.
Belly full, the day looks brighter.
See that past repasts get passed;
come out sanguine, somewhat lighter,
start to feel alert at last.
Brush your choppers on the double,
tasty worm of anti-plaque.
Lather up and scrape the stubble
with the old Gillette two-track.
Splash of Paco, comb your hair straight;
shirt and pants on, distingué.
Raise the windows, feel life pulsate,
march right out and seize the day.
Long sobs begin
They pierce my heart;
their anguished art
leaves me numb.
Throat choked with grief,
pale, when brief
I call to mind
days left behind,
and tears well.
I'm borne away
on winds of prey—
whirl right, drift left,
like sere, bereft
Translated from the French of Paul Verlaine's "Chanson d'automne." (Please click the hyperlink to see the text of the original poem.)
Don’t Buy for Me; Car Too Teeny
Beetle pilot, nimble, smug,
when you risk it on the road,
low and rounded, trim and snug,
boxed by trucks with heavy load,
better have a grave plot paid
and your testament well-planned
just in case a dimpled maid,
SUV-ing, phone in hand,
veering wildly, lane to lane,
unaware of where you’re at,
sucking cig and lacking brain,
runs you down and stamps you flat.
Bug nostalgia’s sweet indeed
if it doesn’t make you bleed.
Bessie Sees the Wrinkled Dog
One day the sharpei slipped his back yard pen
and wandered off to sniff the 'hood’s delights.
He knew he’d made a major error when
to right and left lay only foreign sights.
Perplexed, his corrugated brow became
a field of worried furrows deeply etched.
He really hadn’t sought explorer’s fame
and now wished nothing more than to be fetched.
On learning that her pooch had fled the coop,
his mistress, loving Bess, expressed distress.
Enlisting neighbors’ aid, she led a group
afield and prayed devoutly for success.
The search went on all day, a sharpei diem,
till Bess, relieved, at last was first to see ‘im.
To the Reader
Sheer folly, errors, sin, tight-fisted greed
engross our spirits, bait our spineless clay.
Our nice remorse’s hunger we allay
as beggars nourish well their vermin’s need.
Our sins are stubborn, our contrition feigned,
confessions stir our guilt; we pay a price,
yet we regain bad pathways in a trice,
believing cut-rate tears leave us unstained.
On evil’s pillow, Satan, three times great,
is he who slowly lulls enchanted souls,
and soon our tempered, steel-like wills, our goals,
that learned chemist will eliminate.
The Devil holds the strings that make us dance;
repugnant objects lure us with false charms.
Descending daily closer to Hell’s arms,
we pass, detached, through stinking gloom’s expanse.
Like pauper profligates who mouth and kiss
the martyred breasts of ancient prostitutes,
we steal in passing pleasures destitute
and squeeze them hard to plumb our lust’s abyss.
A seething mass of parasites distends
our brains, base Demons staging drinking bouts,
and when we breathe, the unseen Reaper spouts
complaints in muffled tones as he descends.
If rape, the dagger, poison, searing flame,
have not yet cross-stitched with their droll motifs
the vapid canvas of our sad fate’s grief,
it’s that our soul does not bear valor’s name.
But there among the jackals, panthers, hounds,
the serpents, spiders, vultures, baleful apes,
the yapping, howling, grunting monster shapes,
the zoo where all our breeds of vice abound,
there’s one more foul, more ugly, meaner still,
although he hardly moves or spawns great cries,
who’d gladly make of earth a wrecker’s prize
and in his maw would slurp the world as swill.
It’s Boredom!—eyes awash, the grudging tear,
he dreams of gallows while he smokes his pipe.
You, reader, know this dainty monster type,
—deceitful reader—fellow man—my peer!
Translated from the French of "Au lecteur", a poem from Les fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire. (Please click the hyperlink to see the text of the original poem.)